Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Books 9 & 10 of 2016: OMG by God (with David Javerbaum) & Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs

I decided to go with a funny book after Undercover so I grabbed one from my Kindle which I've had on there for ages. It's called OMG by God (with some help from David Javerbaum).

This was a Kindle freebie sampler for the longer book The Last Testament. It's supposed to be God's own story about how He did the things in the Bible.

I don't know just how many pages this book had but it couldn't have been many. I was done with it within about half an hour. I actually found myself wishing it had been longer. It's based on God Twitter account so I'm guessing you could follow along there for a daily dose of funny.

It was definitely my sort of humour. If I saw the longer book I'd be inclined to pick it up because there's something about it which appeals to me.

I'm always impressed by good parodies because in order to parody something effectively you have to kind of have a handle on just whatever it is that you're parodying. This did it well, right down to the Chapters and Verses which was a good touch.

It was after reading this that I decided I'd keep an eye out for more funny little samplers on my Kindle; normally I want the whole book or not at all. It'd whet my appetite for the longer versions but also because this sort of thing is a nice pick me up for a chilly spring morning!

I followed this up with something which was the complete opposite of a quick, funny read; Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs.

This is the first book in the Tempe Brennan series. It introduces the forensic anthropologist in her role in Montreal where she works for the medico-legal lab in their work solving crimes. In this she works a case which involves someone who is murdering young women and which places herself, her daughter and her best friend in danger.

It felt like it took forever to get through this one. In reality it was only 13 days but considering the first time I read these books I devoured the first three books in almost as many days. To be fair, I was travelling a five hour commute each day so I had a lot more time for reading then than now, but I still felt like I was moving so slowly on this book.

Normally I think I go slower on these crime book rereads because I'm familiar with the story and I know who did it. Usually that takes away the regular sense of urgency. This time around I was struggling to actually remember what happened and who did it, so I can't blame that for my speed. I enjoyed this read, perhaps because I couldn't really remember who the killer was.

One thing which did really stick out on this go through was the way that certain things are explained. This was published way back in 1998 when email wasn't quite so ubiquitous as it is now, so that's just one of the things which gets a detailed explanation, along with other things like picture editing software and modems.

I wouldn't say it bugs me, because it's just down to when the book was written, but it's sort of interesting to see it there in the middle of the story. I guess the biggest problem with it is that it so obviously dates it, rather than just saying 'I opened my email' and letting the reader figure out what that is on their own time so they can move on to the real events of the story.

I think that's something which is only going to get worse with time!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas Eve, aka Happy Anniversary!

Since it's Christmas Eve, it also means that it's Mr Click and my anniversary. So it's time to trot out my old Christmas favourite.

This is the Jim Brickman and Wayne Brady Christmas version of Beautiful. It's our song.

Hope you all have a lovely Christmas Day tomorrow.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

I'm Off

Hopefully as you're reading this, I'm snuggled up in a budget hotel room in Glasgow and not lying on the CalMac waiting room floor weeping into my hand luggage.

I've scheduled a handful of blog posts for the duration of my trip. I might check in if I get the chance between all the festivities.

If I don't manage it, hope you all have a lovely Christmas and I can't wait to catch up with you all when we get back.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016


... to depart from Wales a little earlier than previously anticipated.

Storm Barbara is playing havoc with the ferries already and Friday is set to be awful. Of course, Friday would be the day we're off so it's prompted a bit of a schedule reshuffle and an emergency booking of a hotel room in Glasgow.

... all. of. the. things.

I'd taken the day off work on Thursday ready to do all the last minute bits and pieces, like depositing Tara at the Kennels and putting hair brush, chargers and random other stuff I'm planning on using right before we go.

Since yesterday we had a change of plans we did some emergency packing last night and I've been filling up the edges of my case since then. Luckily I made a list in my trusty bullet journal, Gandalf, but it's just a question of making sure everything fits in there. I'm paranoid it'll be too full or I won't get it all in.

... the temptation to open two early Christmas presents which arrived today.

I've had a pack of 30 Staedtler Triplus Fineliners pretty much since I played with the pack of 20 my friend had and fell in love with the colours, the feel of the pen and the way they wrote. I've had them for getting on for a year now and most of them are in good condition, except for the ones which I use regularly. I've picked up some single black ones since I use them most and the nibs have worn down or become damaged on a couple (though they're still perfectly serviceable, you just have to get them at the right angle).

I've started to notice a couple of the nibs on some of my other regulars wearing a little, there's a blue, a red and a green which are sort of 'go to' pens for various things and I started weighing up the idea of buying some singles, as I'd done with the black ones.

Then I spotted this pack for half price on Amazon and a very good Elf (also known as Mr Click) treated me to it.

I pushed my luck rather by pointing out another little deal on the site:

My good old Anthracite one will probably end the year with just under 20 spare pages, which won't be enough for January. I'll probably use them for test spreads, pen tests and general scrappy notes. But I had already ordered myself a new one a few months ago when I was making up a Christmas present order.

I'd fallen in love with the Azure cover but it just didn't come down in price enough, so I settled for the Navy Blue, knowing I liked the colour and the Azure would be there in the future for me. It was just that after the serious grey colour, I wanted something a little brighter and with a little more pop.

Of course, just last week this one dropped in price to less than what I paid for the Navy one. So I hedged my bets and was totally spoiled too. Since I've changed the way I do my spreads recently (I now have monthly, weekly and daily spreads) I'll probably get through this one in around six months, so good old Navy will be ready for me around summer time next year.

But there's no room for these goodies in my case so I'll leaving them here to wait patiently for my return when I will get to work organising next year!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Books 7 & 8 of 2016: Five Children and It by E. Nesbit & Undercover by Luke Bradbury

Through the year I've tried to alternate reading a Kindle ebook with a book from my bookshelves. I like to do things so that neither books nor ebooks are being neglected. I'm a little bit weird like that.

Back at the start of March I pulled up a Kindle copy of Five Children and It by E. Nesbit.

It's the classic story about five children who are staying at their uncle's house, when they happen across a sand fairy, or psammead, which is able to grant their wishes for a day at a time. Of course, this has disastrous results.

I read this immediately after the Jack Nightingale book San Francisco Night which was pretty dark. Five Children and It was a nice, light little read after that. It was very quick, clocking in at only 103 pages. It's the sort of book you could probably finish in a day or so's reading session, though it took me a little longer than that because I only had time to read in the morning and evening, one chapter at a time.

I kept on thinking of the TV adaptations. I think there was a TV series adaptation which I watched when I was younger and more recently I've watched a film version at my in-laws' place. I read the book as a child but I'd forgotten how much the adaptation diverged from the book.

The writing style is just lovely. It's sort of conversational and really funny in places. The sort of funny which means that there's something for the adults to enjoy as well as children, so for that reason I think it's firmly in 'good bedtime story' territory.

I decided to follow up this idyllic jaunt back to my childhood with a book which couldn't have been more different if it'd tried. Namely, Undercover by Luke Bradbury (with Catherine von Ruhland).

To be honest, the cover says it all:

It's about a young Australian guy, working in London, who has found himself flat out broke. And so decides to pretty much go flat out to earn some extra cash. And... yeah... there's a lot of sex.

This one came to me in a big bundle of books I received some time back. I'm a 'no book left behind' kind of girl, so decided to give it a go regardless and yeah. This wasn't really my kind of a book. I'm guessing it's the sort of book that filled a little niche in the market alongside 50 Shades of Grey. So if that was your kind of thing, you might like this too.

I think I might have enjoyed it a little more if it had spent more time on why Luke decided that working as a gigolo was the best thing to do and perhaps speculated a little more on the women who hired him. Instead it was pretty repetitive. Luke would be hired, have sex, then move on to the next job.

It purports to be a real life account, but I couldn't help but wonder if it was more than a little fictional. According to this book, every woman he serviced, bar one, was incredibly good looking. I don't know. It just feels like that's playing into some sort of male fantasy. Perhaps I'm just stereotyping here, but I'd imagine that the sort of women who would be paying for his services would be a slightly older crowd, not hoards of hot young women.

The book was interspersed with tips like you'd find in a women's magazine. They were obviously aimed at women looking for casual hook-ups rather than women in long-term relationships, but interesting enough to hear a guy's side of things, if you're in the market.

On the whole, it was a quick, mindless read. The sort of thing you could dip into when you're feeling under the weather and need perking up a bit. It's not one I plan to read again though.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Crossing Over to the Other Side

Of the camera that is.

I let Mr Click take over the camera a few weeks ago and it got me thinking about something I've been toying with for a little while.

I'm thinking about dipping my toe into the waters of vlogging.

In the past I never really watched vlogs because we didn't have the data allowance for it on our phones. And even if we'd had the data allowance for it, the connection speed was awful and you'd spend half an hour watching it buffer.

Now that we have proper internet at home, and we'e got a rough date for our next round of IVF/ICSI treatment, I've been hunting out IVF vlogs on YouTube. The problem is, many of them are years and years old. Of course, I'm thrilled to see so many couples having followed up their videos with pregnancy vlogs and little clips of their families.

It's a little like the feeling I got when I was looking at blogs back when we started our 'journey'. There's so many blogs which simply aren't updated any more, that are interesting but irrelevant because they're from someone in a different part of the world where the procedures are significantly different to over here, or which have moved past that stage of the treatment.

My way to counteract that way back when was to start a blog of my own.

And now I'm feeling a similar pull towards vlogging.

I had a little play with my camera and tripod yesterday afternoon and I think I might be able to do it. So at some point in the next few weeks I'm hoping to get a video up.

Why am I telling you this?

Because if I tell you I'm going to do it, then I'm kind of holding myself to it.

Are there any vlogs that you enjoy watching?

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Chapter-by-Chapter: New Moon, Epilogue

Since I wanted to get this book finished before Christmas, and there's only the Epilogue left to go, I figured I might as well go ahead and get the last bit of this book done today.

So let's get on with the very end of New Moon. Epilogue: Treaty.

What Happens?

Everything is getting back to normal. Then Jacob goes and tells tales on Bella and she's going to be in a lot of trouble with Charlie.

Thoughts as I read:

You'll be grateful to know that everything goes pretty much back to normal:

Almost everything was back to normal - the good, pre-zombie normal - in less time than I would have believed possible. The hospital welcomed Carlisle back with eager arms, not even bothering to conceal their delight that Esme had found life in L.A. so little to her liking.

Bella's missed a test and the closing date for a number of college applications. Edward's onto that though. Charlie's still peeved but is allowing Edward to visit occasionally. Unbeknownst to Charlie, Edward's sneaking in through Bella's window every night to spend time with her.

Things between Bella and Jacob aren't great though. She's not allowed out to La Push and he's not making any effort to get in touch with her either. I don't blame him. She does feel a little guilty but she doesn't seem to be missing him too much, she does have Edward, after all.

Weeks pass and Jacob's still having nothing to do with Bella. Billy keeps giving Bella different excuses why Jacob can't come to the phone. Edward tries to console her by pointing out it's not her, it's him. He then goes on to, not so consolingly, suggest that perhaps it's best if Jacob keeps his distance because there'd probably be a fight and Edward would kill, ahem, hurt Jacob.

After some prompting, he suggests that he'd try very hard not to kill Jacob, so at least there's that. It gives Bella a flashback to Romeo and Juliet again. But it's easy to forget all the doom and gloom because:

Every time I looked at his face, that impossibly perfect face, my heart pounded strong and healthy and very there in my chest. This time, the pounding raced ahead of its usually besotted pace. I recognised the expression on his statue-still face.

Edward lets on that Charlie is thinking about killing his daughter. It would appear that he's been reading Charlie's mind or something. Turns out Charlie knows about the motorcycle.

So let's just get this straight for moment. Charlie has mostly made peace with the fact that Bella is dating Edward. He's pretty much forgiven her for disappearing without warning and jetting off to Italy. But the knowledge that a few months ago she was charging around on a motorbike is what's going to push him over the edge into a homicidal rage. Priorities, man!

And what's upsetting Bella most of all is that Jacob is obviously the one who has told on her. Again, if this is the biggest thing she has to be upset about right now, it's really not that big a deal. Edward's able to tell that Jacob is inside but holds Bella back from charging in and killing him, because that's what boyfriends do when you're a little bit crazy.

Edward knows that Jacob is there to see him. Which gives Bella another flashback to Romeo and Juliet, what with Paris falling and all. But it's okay, there won't be a fight. Jacob's there as a spokeswolf.

The two guys spend about a page facing off to one another. Bella interrupts the male posturing to ask why? and is told that it's basically so she'd get grounded and wouldn't be able to spend as much time with Edward. Oh Jacob, I thought you were bigger than that. On the other hand, I'm kind of cheering for him here. I'm so torn.

Unfortunately for Jacob, she's already grounded, that's why she's not been allowed out to La Push to hang with him. Jacob seems to have been under the impression that it was because she was being forbidden from spending time with him by Edward. This is why people in books really just need to sit down and talk about things. Honestly guys, that would save so many misunderstandings!

Rather unsurprisingly, one of the first things Edward does, after telling Jacob that he knows why they are there, is to thank Jacob for keeping Bella alive. This is rather surprising. Then there's some interaction between Edward and Jacob where Edward is reading Bella's mind and Jacob's pretty clearly asking Edward to go away.

The other thing Jacob is there for, aside from making sure Bella's well and truly in trouble, is to remind Edward's lot of some of the finer points of their treaty. If any of them bite a human then all bets are null and void. A moment too late, Bella makes it clear that she's already made plans involving being bitten. It sends Jacob into spasms, threatening to completely lose control.

Luckily he manages to bring himself back from the brink and seconds later Charlie starts yelling for Bella. She is in deep trouble.

Meanwhile Edward and Jacob keep talking about how they're getting on with catching Victoria. Answer, not very well. They've not seen a sign of her for a little while now. But it's time to go get yelled at by Charlie, so Edward and Bella have to leave. As she goes, she learns that Jacob can't be her friend any more. This of course, prompts a near fight between Jacob and Edward.

Then Bella gets full-named, so you know she's really for it now.

We don't get to see exactly what happens next. Bella is dragged away to face her fate as she reflects on all of her problems:

My best friend counted me with his enemies.
Victoria was still on the loose, putting everyone I loved in danger.
If I didn't become a vampire soon, the Volturi would kill me.
And now it seemed that if I did, the Quileute werewolves would try to do the job themselves - along with trying to kill my future family. I didn't think they had any choice really, but would my best friend get himself killed in the attempt?

But that's all stuff for the future.

For now she's about to get yelled at by her father.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Happy Birthday, Mr Click!

Exactly 46 years ago today there was a very poorly baby in hospital who'd been born that morning.

And today he looks like this:

That's him modelling the present I got him, an Open University hoodie, since he's been coveting mine for the last two years. I have to say it suits him.

He's been well and truly spoiled rotten today. I think he's loved every minute of it. I know I have!

Since we got our DAB radio in the bedroom, we put it on a little after 6am and usually listen to the end of Vanessa Feltz's show. She always does the birthdays at the end, picking one person to play the number one from the year they were born. Of course, we weren't listening to it this morning since we were having a lie-in!

Well, at number one on the 16th of December was Dave Edmunds's 'I Hear You Knocking' (it was at number one for a whole six weeks):

Interestingly enough, this was also one which Status Quo did. One which Mr Click got to see performed by them (in The Anniversary Waltz) some 30-something years after the version from the year he was born. Nice little coincidence there.

Happy Birthday, my wonderful husband!

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Chapter-by-Chapter: New Moon, Chapter 24

A day early, but I've got plans for tomorrow's post so New Moon has gotten bumped up by a day.

It's also the very last proper chapter in the book, so all the more reason to get it out of the way before Christmas. Had we stayed on schedule I would've posted this weeks ago, which would've been very fitting as the chapter's called Vote.

What Happens?

Bella and Edward put her mortality to a vote with the Cullens, which goes in a different direction to what I was expecting. Then Edward has a proposal for her.

Thoughts as I read:

Knowing how the last chapter ended, with Bella deciding she was off to see the Cullens to let them decide whether or not they thought she should be made into a vampire, she's probably going to put this to them very democratically and ask them to vote on it. It's going to take approximately 22 pages for them to reach a resolution.

Since Bella can't really sneak out of the house very easily, Edward grabs her and jumps out the window, even though he's clearly not happy about it. If he's that unhappy about it, he could always just jump out of the window and y'know, not take her with him. She then rides him like a bicycle through the forest, honestly, that's pretty much how it's described.

Now that Bella's become a bit of a speed freak, she's actually quite enjoying the journey. She used to be afraid so this is some sort of progress. She kisses Edward's neck because she's realised that she is in fact awake now. She also reveals that she doesn't trust herself. Or something. It's all very soppy and I don't really care because this is the sort of conversation that they often have without actually saying anything.

Bella's biggest fear isn't the Volturi any more, it's that Edward might leave again. She sounds like she's got some dangerous addiction problem there. Edward's realised that the best way to prove to Bella that he won't leave again is to just not leave, but it'll take a bit of time to convince her of that.

It's quite funny here, actually. Bella asks for the stuff back that Edward took. He reveals that he just hid it under her floorboards. It's been in her room the whole time!

Somehow Bella sort of knew this all along. And then she comes clean about hearing Edward's voice whenever she did anything dangerous. She comes up with a reason why she could hear him:

Edward loved me. The bond forged between us was not one that could be broken by absence, distance, or time. And no matter how much more special or beautiful or brilliant or perfect than me he might be, he was as irreversibly altered as I was. As I would always belong to him, so would he always be mine?

Yeah. I don't get what that means either.

Whatever it means, love features pretty heavily in this epiphany, so yay! I guess.

Edward then congratulates Bella for doing a better job of surviving than he did. Because hearing voices and being suicidal is clearly better than whatever he spent the time doing. They're definitely meant for one another!

When they arrive at the house everything is as though the Cullens had never left. With one word, Edward has Carlisle show up and take them through to the dining room. Obviously, not much dining actually takes place here. Instead the whole family gathers for this meeting.

Bella fills them in on what's going on and why she's gathered them all here like this. Just in case you've forgotten, the Volturi were willing to let her go on the condition that since she knows about them, sooner or later she's going to have to become one of them. I'm impressed to see that she does give the Cullens the option of whether or not they want her. Seriously guys, say no! If you don't you'll be stuck with her for ETERNITY! If they say no she's going to hand herself over to the Volturi by going back to Italy.

Sure enough she invites them to vote on it. But before he'll let them, Edward announces that he has something to add to what she's already said.

It's involving one of the Volturi named Demetri. He's got a funny tracking ability but he can only do it with Aro's help and since she can't read Bella's thoughts, they won't be able to find her. She'll be perfectly safe. Unless they, I don't know, look in the phone book or Google her or something! Edward thinks it'll be as simple as hiding her if they come looking.

Bella takes this into account and asks everyone there to cast their votes. For the Nos are Edward and Rosalie; and for the Yeses are Alice, Jasper, Emmett, Esme and Carlisle (though he doesn't say it in so many words). Bella then asks Alice where they want to do it which sends Edward off in a rage.

Alice isn't actually sure how to do it without killing anyone, but it's okay because Carlisle knows what he's doing. Edward's trying to backpedal and points out they don't have to do it right now. I kind of agree because this is going to take some explaining to her parents. She should really say to them something before she goes and gets all immortal and sparkly.

Funnily enough, this is almost exactly what Edward says, expect he phrases it that Charlie will send the police round after them. And Bella starts to see sense and realises that doing this will involve losing the people she loved. At least Edward sees reason and suggests that if they do have to turn Bella, they might be best waiting until she finishes school and no longer has to live with her father. This seems like a pretty practical solution to me and I'm amazed to find that I'm actually agreeing with Edward of all people!

With that plan in place, Bella's off home. Edward charges home with her in his arms and puts her to bed. He's trying to work something out and Bella proposes a trade with him. He'll be the one to turn her and she'll wait a full year. She needs it to be done while she's nineteen though, there's no way she's going to let him sneak her into her twenties. She wants to be a teenager FOREVER!

Except the one thing he really wants is for her to marry him. Can you get married if you're technically alive? That's got to make getting all the paperwork together a real problem! Bella's not really the marrying sort though and she's not sure that her mum would approve. I'm sure Renee will be absolutely thrilled with the idea of her daughter dying though.

Suddenly the commitment isn't seeming so hot to Bella. Really, girl? I thought this was what you wanted. Edward's basically said that if they rush off to Las Vegas he'll turn her immediately and now she's suggesting they wait eighteen months.

This conversation wakes Charlie up so Edward hides in the closet while Charlie checks on his daughter. And he wants to talk. That's a talk with a capital T, I think. He's pretty annoyed with her so she starts babbling about jumping off the cliff, then realises that he didn't actually know about the jumping off a cliff bit, which became an emergency when Edward got wind of it and thought she was trying to kill herself.

Charlie, of course, has to ask whether she was actually trying to kill herself, and Bella is a bit of a lying liar who lies when she says she wasn't. Then she says she thinks the Cullens are back for good, at which point Charlie says he won't have Edward messing her up the way he did when he left. Bella then announces that she'll move out if she's not allowed to be with her boyfriend. Dramatic stuff this.

They sort of reach a stalemate. Charlie's not in any sort of mood to accept Edward and Bella's telling him they come as a package deal. In the end Charlie stomps off so Bella can shower. Edward's not too pleased with Bella burning bridges with her father, but he's pretty happy that she's planning on being with him forever, so swings and roundabouts, I guess.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016


... this:

Yesterday I took a half day from work and got quite a bit of walking in during that time. I woke this morning with 1.2 miles left to go and I finally hit my target right after work this evening.

Just as a reminder. I started my 'journey' across Middle-earth way back on January 1st and I had no idea whether I would stick with it the whole time. But I did.

And these walks are just the ones I've actually logged. There's been quite a bit of walking which hasn't been tracked, otherwise I probably would've made it to Rivendell a little while ago!

... my next route in my journey across Middle-earth!

I'm a glutton for punishment.

I debated giving myself the rest of the month off for walks without any pressure, but the next leg of the journey is Rivendell to Lothlorien which comes in at 462 miles. And next year when we start treatment I'll have to cut down my activity (when you're stimulating the follicles in your ovaries there's a risk of them twisting if you're too active, not really something that's recommended).

So I'm starting tomorrow, with a plan to not sweat it too much come January/February time when I might need to sit it out for a while.

... Home Alone.

It is Christmas after all.

... nothing!

That's right, I'm currently in between books. I finished A Christmas Carol earlier on today and I'm yet to begin Letters from Father Christmas. These are my two Christmas regular reads, so I figured I'd follow one up with the other. Except the latter is pretty big and not really portable so I've not gotten around to starting it yet. Luckily it's not a long read and then I'll go back to my Kindle for a few more Christmassy reads before the 25th.

Have you achieved any of your goals you set for yourself this year?

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Books 5 & 6 of 2016: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card & San Francisco Night by Stephen Leather

When I returned home from Wales in February, I was surprised to find that I had a package waiting for me. Mr Click suggested that I'd ordered something online, but I knew that I hadn't. It turned out that I'd been sent a copy of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Stacy @ Stacy's Books had reviewed it and offered to share it with a commenter, and I was the lucky commenter who received a copy.

When Ender is six years old he is selected for an elite army. Children are sent out to a space station and spend their time being put through their paces in a combat game, forming into teams and honing their skills to take part in a space battle that is raging ahead of them. Meanwhile, back on Earth, his brother and sister who were deemed unsuitable for the programme work together to influence politics and popular opinion. Together the three of them will influence Earth's own destiny.

I really enjoyed this book. I jumped straight into it and I barely came up for air until I'd finished. I remember having some pretty late nights reading it along the way too!

In a way it kind of reminded me of The Hunger Games. I guess because of the parallels of a dystopian future with kids being pitted against each other. But I think I actually enjoyed this one more. I enjoyed my read of The Hunger Games series but I don't think it's got as much re-read value as this one.

At first I thought that Ender sounded a lot older than six, but as I went on through the book I think that was actually intentional. It makes him stand out because he's just not like the other kids. It's because he's not like all the normal children that he's chosen and it's that which makes him Ender.

I won't give away the ending here, but I guessed exactly what was going on during the final battle. The whole book had been building up to that point though so I don't think it was meant to be a surprise.

I'd been holding off seeing the film adaptation because I wanted to read the book, and now I feel comfortable picking that up some time. Of course, this is just the first book in a whole series by Orson Scott Card, and I'm definitely going to read the rest of the books in the future as well. Plus this'll need a reread too.

I followed up Ender's Game with another book in the Jack Nightingale series. This one, San Francisco Night by Stephen Leather, is the sixth in the series.

This installment sees Nightingale in San Francisco (obviously) where he finds him embroiled in the mystery of a group known as 'The Apostles'. The organisation is abducting children and murdering people in an attempt to summon a demon into the world. The only person who will be about to stop them is Jack, the question is whether he will be able to do it in time!

The first thing that I noticed when my friend lent me this book is that the cover doesn't follow the earlier format of the series. Upon closer inspection the paper is really white and smooth, it's also slightly larger than your regular paperback book. It turns out that this one has been self-published, rather than produced through the same publisher as the others. I'm not actually sure why that is.

Once the story got going, I quite enjoyed it. I liked the setting. It was interesting to see Jack out of his usual haunts. This one also introduced the character of Amy Chen, a police officer in the city. She and Jack had to work together, so he had to try and explain just what was going on, win her over to his side, and then get her to help. They made a good couple too.

There were a couple of bits where I couldn't help but think that the American characters sounded kind of British. I get that terms like 'sofa' and 'couch' can be used interchangeably but it sort of pulled me out of the story a little when there were things being said which didn't feel so American to me.

The fact that it was self-published kind of showed through in some parts as well. There were a few typos, some missing words and things weren't properly formatted. Some of it was just simple aesthetics, like Chapter 87 not being a proper heading, but it was another little thing that pulled me out of an otherwise good story. They were editing mistakes that really should have been caught before going to print.

I'll pick up a copy of the seventh book in the series some time. My friend who's been lending me these books switched over to a Kindle so I don't have physical copy I can borrow of the next one. I've enjoyed them so far though, so I'll get to at eventually.

Monday, 12 December 2016

When Does Early Pregnancy Begin?

On Friday I more or less finalised what's going on with my appointments with the hospital. I posted last Thursday about the ordeal I'd had trying to get booked in.

Well it occurred to me on Friday morning that I wasn't actually clear on all of the specifics so got that chased up and now I'm more or less clear on what's going on. I also know which protocol I'm on and when I spoke to the nurse about what I thought the drug regime would be her exact words were 'see you already know all this'. Yay! I'm a pro!

And since then I've kind of been in a bit of a buzz.

And part of it is because I'm off to Wales for Christmas in less than two weeks.

And part of it is because I have a plan again.

You see, I'm one of those people who likes to have a plan. I like to know what's going to happen, when it's going to happen and all those other little details which seem so insignificant to the majority of people but which are a big deal for me.

And it might sound a bit weird, but I'm excited to get started because for me, early pregnancy doesn't begin with the appearance of a second line on a test, that bit actually comes quite a bit later for me.

For me it begins with a letter or phone call telling me that I can begin a serious of uncomfortable and invasive tests and procedures. It probably doesn't seem like a thing to get excited about. But for me, who has no other alternative to make a baby, it's a pretty big deal.

Because the rest of the time it doesn't matter how hard we 'try', how perfect our timing is, it's the odds of that leading to early pregnancy is so very slim that it's hardly worth bothering with (except, y'know, we do anyway).

If you don't have any problems getting pregnant then your early pregnancy will probably begin with a late period or a sneaking suspicion that you had a birth control snafu. There'll be the anxiety or excitement of buying a test, then the appointment with the midwife, the scan, working out when you're due and planning all the things that are associated with an upcoming new arrival.

If you've made the conscious decision to try things will be much the same. For the first few months you might look at when your maybe baby will be due. You might even try and time things, after all, there are so many birthdays in November that perhaps it would be better to wait another month before kicking it all off, because you're planning and being organised about it all.

But as the months go on, you'll probably stop doing that. You get to the point where it doesn't matter if eleventy-one other people in your family have birthdays or anniversaries or other celebrations that month, because it'd be nice just to have that extra little one to celebrate as well.

And then you find out that it's not going to help without some serious help, so you stop tracking it altogether.

Until you get the news that you're going to be having an assisted conception cycle in a particular month. And then you can't help but sneak a peak at when you're likely to be due if everything goes to plan or follows the same routine as last time.

And that starts the snowball. Because the next thing you're thinking about is how a baby born in that month is going to need these sorts of clothes, or that sort of car seat would be most practical. And you think about where they would fall for the school year, one of the oldest or one of the youngest. And you start thinking about how you'd really better start getting back to work on the spare bedroom again. Just in case.

Because it's nice to have something to plan for. And you want to be optimistic. And it's kind of exciting to be back on the wagon again.

So while it might be many months (please, I hope not) before I actually catch another glimpse of a second line, and just in case I never do again, I'm going to carry on making my little plans because getting a date for treatment means I've got that little glimmer of hope to cling onto once more.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Walking with Seals

This morning Mr Click had to go out for a while so I decided to use the time I had to myself to take Tara for a walk. Originally we'd planned to walk her to Kerrycroy together, but once we left the house (after a false start when I forgot to put her collar on and only realised when I had nothing to clip her lead to) I decide to let Tara pick our route.

As you can see, she did a pretty good job of choosing the route. We had a little meander around the area where the bird hide is (right around the mile mark). Tara was desperate to get down onto the beach there but it wasn't a great spot; we would've had a bit of a jump and then there wasn't actually much down there except for slippery seaweed covered rocks.

So we kept on going. At each break in the plants along the route to the beach Tara would stop and look at me as if to say 'can we go down now, mum?' and I had to shake my head because I didn't fancy breaking a leg on the walk.

Until she finally found a good spot to get down onto the beach. She practically took off and then couldn't believe her ears when I even allowed her to go into the water. It was pure coincidence that I let her go paddle just as it started spotting with rain; I figured if we were both going to get wet, she might as well have a bit of fun while she was doing it.

But what was a little weird was that she didn't seem overly keen to go too far into the water.

Since she's discovered that she can swim we have a devil of a time trying to actually get her out of the water. She bobbed in a couple of times to retrieve some seaweed but then decided she had had enough and started leading me up the beach.

And that's when I got that feeling like I was being watched.

Except I knew there was no one else around because the beach had been totally deserted when we got down onto it and no one had joined us there.

I looked back at the water and suddenly realised that a couple of the rocks in the water weren't rocks at all. There were about seven seals gliding by on the water, about fifteen feet away from us, and several of them had stopped to have a look at us.

These photos actually make it look as though we were further away from them than we were.

There was one very large one (who is in the centre of the first photo but bobbed under the water slightly), who seemed quite brave and didn't mind us taking a couple of steps back down the beach towards them. That was, until Tara had a little shake and startled them. Then they all popped down under the water.

We just stood there for a while watching them watching us. I think they were more interested in Tara than me, or perhaps they thought we were there to steal their prime beach lounging spot.

After a while Tara started leading me along the beach and to my surprise, the seals were following us. I think some of them fell behind but there were a good three or four who were with us right the way until we left the beach.

I think they were just escorting us away.

It felt truly magical.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Chapter-by-Chapter: New Moon, Chapter 23

Can we just pretend that it's not been six weeks since I last posted a Chapter-by-Chapter post? It's so close to the end of the book that I really can't stop now and I am genuinely a little curious about how it's going to end. Let's see if we can't get this done by the end of the year.

Anyway, the last chapter we read saw Bella's return home, along with a reunion with the Cullen gang. Oh, and Charlie was not best pleased about the whole situation! Couldn't really blame him there though.

So, without further ado, here's Chapter 23: The Truth.

What Happens?

Bella wakes up to discover Edward is in her room and she isn't dead. They have a L-O-N-G chat about stuff. And feelings. And they kiss a bit too.

Thoughts as I read:

I wonder if this chapter title means that everyone is going to come clean with Charlie about all the craziness surrounding his daughter. It's probably too much to hope for. They'll just be telling Bella the truth about what they have to do next or something.

It's as though we've never been away, since the chapter begins with Bella dreaming and waking up. The dreams she's having are kind of weird. There are monsters and an angel and Bella doesn't want to come round.

When she does wake up, it's as though the angel is still there. Cold and stony. Oh, I wonder who that could be?

Of course if you guessed Edward, you would be right. Bella automatically decides that she's probably delusional:

This was very good, as delusions went. The face, the voice, the scent, everything - it was so much better than drowning. The beautiful figment of my imagination watched my changing expressions with alarm. His irises were pitch-black, with bruise-like shadows under them. This surprised me; my hallucinatory Edwards were usually better fed.


She proceeds to decide that the day she tried to drown herself must have actually worked and all the events since then are just some sort of hallucination. The fact Edward is still here with her is obviously evidence that she's dead. Edward has to gently explain to Bella that she is truly awake and he's definitely here with her.

It takes best part of a page for her to realise he's speaking the truth.

She's still rather slow on the uptake, musing on the fact that she's actually gone all the way to Italy and back, when she learns that Charlie outright banned Edward from entering the house. Considering vampires need to be invited into a building, you'd think banning him from it would cause Edward some sort of problems. Except it doesn't. He just came in through the window instead.

We establish that Bella was away for three days total and they have to come up for some sort of explanation for Charlie about where she's been and why. Edward, for all his age and world experience, has no idea what to tell him.

They set aside thoughts of this, hoping that Alice will be able to come up with a plausible story, so Bella can find out what Edward was up to while they were apart. He was hunting. Well, tracking. My guess is that it was some bad vampires or perhaps some werewolves, just to make things really uncomfortable for the gang here in Forks.

He then apologises to Bella, which really surprises me because he doesn't really seem like the sort of person who spends much time thinking about other people. Edward didn't realise what sort of danger he was leaving Bella in, especially leaving her in the clutches of the filthy werewolves. He actually goes on for a good two paragraphs. I don't think I've ever seen him speak so much!

Next it's Bella's turn to waffle. She's warbling on about how he can't let himself be ruled by his guilt at failing to protect her. Even though, if he wants to protect her, running away when there are hungry vampires on their way to the town in search of Bella is a pretty poor way of doing it.

But Edward went to the Volturi to be bumped off not because he felt guilty, but because he couldn't imagine living (should that be 'being undead'?) in a world without her. He wasn't really breaking up with her and saying goodbye, rather he was hoping that by pretending he had moved on then she would move on too and that would make things easier for them both.

Or something.

I don't really get this vampire logic, but I'm guessing this is 'the truth' of the chapter title.

He then goes on to kind of berate Bella about the fact that she let this 'one word' break her faith in him. Well, he seemed pretty final when he said it, then disappeared without a trace. So I suppose she might have gotten a bit of a mixed message there.

Rather than being really annoyed with him, Bella seems happy to hear this news though she is then even more convinced that she is dreaming than she was before. Jeez, there's no pleasing some people. A minute later and they're professing their love and kissing one another:

His mouth was on mine then, and I couldn't fight him. Not because he was so many thousand times stronger than me, but because my will crumbled into dust the second our lips met. This kiss was not quite as careful as others I remembered, which suited me just fine. If I was going to rip myself up further, I might as well get as much in trade as possible.

Half a page later they stop kissing and Edward breaks it to Bella that he's not leaving again. That'll be a fun conversation to have with Charlie.

He's realised that leaving without her was a mistake, so if he goes again, she'll have to go with him. See Bella, this is why you should be careful what you wish for! Now you're stuck with him again.

There's another page of chat, but it's more rehashing of what's been said before, so I think we can skim past it. Blah blah blah he loves her blah blah blah life/death has no meaning without her blah blah blah.

Oh, and in all of this talk he reveals that he was hunting Victoria. In fact he still means to find and destroy her. That'll be nice for them all.

Bella does point out at this point that he did just say he wasn't going to leave her again. Does this mean she gets to go with him and play bait again? Edward's not clear on that, but I think it'd make for a fun read.

Right now she's less concerned about Victoria than she is about the Volturi, though Edward's fairly blase about that. He reckons they won't care enough to come looking for her for another decade or so. Well that's a relief. At least she's not going to have that hanging over her for the next twelve years or anything!

The fact that he mentioned her turning thirty has upset her though. Bella turning thirty means that Edward isn't going to turn her. She's disappointed that her boyfriend doesn't want to 'destroy her soul'. She's especially bothered by the fact that sooner or later she will be old enough that people will think she's Edward's mother or grandmother. That would be kind of a squicky relationship right there. Edward doesn't think it's going to be an issue though. Perhaps where he comes from 80 year olds regularly shack up with people who look like they're in their late teens.

Also Edward has some plans involving the Volturi and Bella and her still being human when these plans are put into action. He remains characteristically tight-lipped on the subject.

Of course, he's able to put together plans about how to deal with the Vampire Mafia, but he can't come up with a plausible excuse for Bella being away from home for three days!

At this point Bella decides that she's off to Edward's house, regardless of the fact that leaving in her truck will wake Charlie and get her into even more trouble than she's already in. She seems to be cool with this, because she has a plan too.

She's off to conduct a vote amongst the Cullens as to whether or not she should remain mortal.


Thursday, 8 December 2016

How to book your second fresh IVF/ICSI treatment cycle in 15 easy steps

Step 1
Tell the doctor at your appointment in September that you'd like to begin your next round of treatment in February. Be told this will be fine, just call J. to book it.

Step 2
Follow doctor's advice and call the number to book treatment.

Step 3
Be told to call back in early December.

Step 4
Call back on December the 1st. Be told you need to wait until your period starts. Try to explain that it's imminent, that you know it's due at the weekend and can tell them your current average cycle length. Be told you need to wait until your period starts.

Step 5
Your period starts (two days later, as scheduled). It's now a weekend. Call back and leave a message.

Step 6
Receive voicemail on Monday telling you someone will call to book an appointment the next day.

Step 7
Receive voicemail on Tuesday telling you to call a different number between 8am and 4pm.

Step 8
Call new number repeatedly between 8am and 4pm. Message at the other end alternates between telling you the person you are trying to reach is on the phone and ringing out so going to voicemail. Give up. Leave a message and decide to resume the game of phone tag the next day.

Step 9
At 7:13pm that night, while you're on another call away from your mobile, receive a voicemail from S. saying something along the lines of 'if Cathy still wants to speak to [them] to call back tomorrow' (like we've changed our minds about the whole process by this point!).

Step 10
Phone back on Wednesday. Get voicemail. Clearly state who you are, why you are phoning (again) and times when you will be available through the day on the number you are giving them.

Step 11
Wait and watch as those times pass without a phone call.

Step 12
Have a day off on Thursday so begin calling at 8am. Make plan to call every hour, on the hour, through the day.

Step 13
Whilst you (and phone) are in a signal blackspot, receive a voicemail from a nurse. Message explains that you've been calling the wrong number (see Step 7) all week. Gives you new number to call.

Step 14
Call new number. It goes to voicemail.

Step 15
Phone rings whilst you are in the middle of something. Toss notebook, pens, lap table aside in your scramble to get the phone before they ring off. Breathlessly answer the call. Panic when they ask you what protocol you were on because no one told you that you'd need to know this. Hazard a guess and hope it's the right one. Give them your dates for your cycle and when your next period is due (which you realise afterwards might not be one hundred percent correct because you didn't have your notes with you at the time). Get a date in January for an appointment, along with an instruction to pick up some medication some time that you don't know when you're supposed to take it. Decide you don't really care whether you've got it all right because at least you have an appointment.

Thank goodness we've finally got an appointment.

I like to think that this whole thing is a screening process for the treatment. If you are able to get through the myriad phone calls and voicemail messages, then you've passed and you're eligible for treatment.

I think I've passed the test. Let's hope we pass the next one too!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016


... the fact that I've got a Sunday in the middle of the week this week.

I booked the day off work tomorrow because we had something on which was cancelled. Mr Click called me at work this afternoon so I could cancel the holiday if I wanted to.

I may have laughed down the phone at him.

Well, I'm running out of days to use up my holiday hours and they're not transferable to next year so I decided against cancelling the holiday in favour of having a lie-in and getting caught up on some bits and pieces I want to get done.

... like knitting again.

I've kind of been off knitting for a while. I've picked up and set down more projects than I care to think about recently. I'll get them all picked up and finished in the new year but nothing's really been capturing me much.

I guess it's because Bertie Bloomer was such a big project and he turned out so well that nothing else is comparing to him in the same sort of scale.

But on Sunday I stayed home to work on Mr Click's anniversary present (which I can't mention here right now because he mustn't see it til our anniversary on Christmas Eve). When I'd finished I decided to go onto a project from my knitting magazine which had captured my imagination.

It's actually designed to be a little hat which sits on top of a regular headband for Christmas, but I've been looking for fun ways to decorate my phone headset at work for ages. I was thinking about knitting some little horns and animal ears to sew on, perhaps rotating through them each month. Well this just seemed too perfect to turn down:

I was going to make an excuse here about my messy hair, since I'd not brushed it or anything before taking this picture, but let's face it, this is pretty much how I look most of the time!

It's also just balanced on my head here. I took it to work and before I clocked in, spend a while attaching to to the headset. It took a while to get it on properly, so I'm not looking forward to trying to get it off because I don't want to run the bottom of it. This'll be coming out again next year.

I'm also pretty pleased that everyone at work just accepts how quirky I am now. No one bats an eyelid when they walk in and see me wearing a headset with a Santa hat perched on the top of it. That's what belonging feels like, hehe.

... to get in touch with the hospital.

There's a blog point in this sometime but suffice to say, I called back last Thursday to try and schedule treatment for February and I've been chasing my tail since then. Thank goodness for holidays since I'm planning on spending most of the day phoning the hospital tomorrow.

I'll let you know how that works out!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Books 3 & 4 of 2016: Phantasmagoria and Other Poems by Lewis Carroll & Goddess Be The Woman You Want To Be by Elisabeth Wilson

On the 18th of February this year, I was sitting in a rather chilly Buchanan Bus Station, waiting for nearly 11pm to strike so that I could get on the bus that was going to take me all the way down to Bristol, where I would change and head on to Cardiff.

As with my upcoming repeat version of this journey, except this time it'll involve air travel instead of motorways, I took my Kindle. There's something nice about knowing you've got thousands of books at your disposal, without having to pay for three of four extra suitcases on your journey.

I'd finished reading if... and scrolled to the very end of my 'Recent Books' list to select my next bit of reading material. I feel like I should add here, this is my current method for selecting what to read. I've had a Kindle since 2012 now and there are a huge number of free books I've downloaded but never gotten around to reading, all the while I'm downloading more and more books. To address this problem, I simply select the ones which have been hanging around on my Kindle the longest. It seems fairest, like they're in some sort of waiting list.

This method presented me with a nice short, 66-page read, Phantasmagoria and Other Poems by Lewis Carroll.

I was glad when this came up as the next one to read because I was selecting it to kill some time while I waited for my coach. I didn't want anything that I was going to get too engrossed in, nothing worse than rushing for your bus. I also didn't want anything too long. I wanted something which I could dip into if it did take me longer to read, not anything which was going to become a chore to read during downtime while I was at my Mum's.

It was freezing cold in the bus station and this definitely helped keep my mind off of it for about an hour. All of the poems were familiar to me as I've got them in my Jabberwocky poetry book. I think that's the complete collection of Carroll's poems. Personally I find them a lot easier to read on the page than on the screen. As is often the case with Kindle books, particularly the free ones, the formatting can go a little screwy at times.

I helpfully made a note in my book journal about two of the poems, but didn't include the titles so I'm not sure which ones they were. One was about a ghost, which I believe is 'Phantasmagoria' itself. The other one was about how to write a poem which some Googling has informed me is called 'Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur'. Thanks, Google.

This did make for a nice quick read, as I said, it's only 66 pages. It helped that I was familiar with the poems as well, though there were some, like the riddle and acrostic poems which I felt were lost on me. I know I've complained about that before though.

I used the same method to select my next book, this time at Bristol Bus Station as I prepared for the final leg of my journey.

It's broken down into a variety of different topics on things like relationships, work, finances, and home life. Most begin with a quiz, your answers to which determine what sort of a person you are or your thoughts and feelings on a subject, from there you're given a page to go to in order to find out how to fix things or improve yourself. Kind of like a self-help choose your own adventure book.

I fully expected to find this book kind of funny and kooky. I've always avoided self-help books for that very reason. I was sure I wouldn't be able to take it seriously and it would be an amusing little read for me while I was away. In actual fact, I found it quite interesting and I did genuinely enjoy it.

I liked the way that it was organised with the quizzes to find out your 'type' then tips to help you develop. Of course, I did the quizzes but then I just read all of the suggestions anyway. Some of the advise was quite similar and so I think it could be applied to more than one 'type' of person anyway. I think it's the sort of book I could dip back into again and make some notes on in my Bullet Journal.

One complaint I had with the quizzes was that they weren't very consistent. I kind of felt like they'd been compiled from women's magazines or something. Some you had to count the number of each letter that you scored, some you got points for each answer you selected, some were true or false. Not really a problem in itself, except that it didn't tell you which sort you were doing until the end, so there was a bit of flipping back and forth at those bits.

It probably would've worked better in print copy than Kindle version as well because the ideas weren't grouped together. So you'd do a quiz and then one outcome was at the front of the book, one was right after the quiz, one was somewhere near the end. It meant a lot of jumping around and you couldn't really read it from beginning to end because it jumped around so much.

I can't say that I've really changed anything as a result of reading this book, but it's the sort of book I might revisit in the future.

Monday, 5 December 2016

The Bullet Journal Tag

Someone shared a link to Happy Hollife's Bullet Journal Tag on the Bullet Journal Junkies Facebook Group the other day. I spotted it, enjoyed reading it and thought that since she'd tagged everyone who read it, that I should get in on the action too.

1. How long have you been bullet journalling?

Since January the 1st this year. That was my official first day. I learned about it on the 30th of December, bought a notebook the very next day and drew up my first few pages. I've been doing it for almost a whole year now.

2. What makes the bullet journal system right for you?

The fact that it's so flexible. It can be anything I want it to be.

I've tried using regular diaries in the past. Back at Uni I used a week to view one which frustrated me even then. Sometimes I'd have four or five things all on the same day and not enough room for them all, then during the summer I'd have virtually nothing on so it just felt like wasted pages. I tried using a page per day one for a while several year back, but I didn't like having blank pages; it seemed like a waste somehow.

Each time I draw up my pages, I get to decide how I want to lay them out. I've modified my monthly overviews multiple times to find something that works for me. I switched to weekly pages during November so I could spend less time on my bullet journal during the month and this month I'm finally using a monthly overview, weeklies and dailies (the latter primarily for journalling and reflections). If I'd changed that much in a regular diary I'd be onto my fourth of fifth one for the year so far!

3. What notebook do you use and why?

I started out using the bullet journal philosophy of 'use what you have to hand'. I liked the layouts using grids and dots so could see how that would be practical but didn't have a notebook to spare so I picked up a Gorjuss spiral bound project book. This was good because it had lines, grids and blank paper in it so I got a feel for what I wanted.

It made it easier to decide that I wanted to go ahead with getting a Leuchtturm 1917 when the time came for a new book. I spent a lot of time comparing notebooks online and Leuchtturms are what a fair number of BuJo enthusiasts use. At the time I'd been using a mini Moleskine notebook as a walking journal and I wasn't happy with the paper quality in that, so went with the Leuchtturm.

Currently it's a dotted anthracite grey Leuchtturm (one of the things I love about these notebooks is the sheer variety of colours), A5 size, which I got from The Pen & Paper Shop in Cardiff when I was there in February. I christened it Gandalf the Grey but didn't begin it until May.

I'm sold on the quality of it. The paper is nice, you get a bit of ghosting but no bleed-through with Staedtler Fineliners; the dots offer guidance without being too obtrusive, I've learned to line up regularly used pages relatively quickly based on how many dots there are for each section. Plus there's a pocket at the back, page markers (two, one of which is usually on my current page, whereas the second marks either the page I'm working on or often my tracking page).

I've got just about enough pages left to see me through to the end of the year, and the book I'll be starting in January will be a Leuchtturm too. This time Navy Blue. Any suggestions for a name for that one?

4. What's your go-to pen?

I use Staedtler Triplus Fineliners. I bought a pack of the 30 back in January (before that I was using a pack of Stabilo Fineliners, but they had a tendency to bleed through on the notebook I was using at the time, and they felt scratchier than the Staedtler version).

My set came with one black, which wore down pretty quickly since I was using it for everything. When I was in Cardiff picking up my notebook I grabbed another two single blacks and I've grabbed another two since then, anticipating that I would get through them very quickly. As it happens I think I just bashed the first one with the lid or something when I put it on because while the two I picked up in Cardiff have worn down a little, they're still usable. I've still got two spares for when I need to swap them out.

I use different colour schemes for each month (or each double page at the moment) so I think that helps with making sure the nibs don't wear down too quickly.

5. What's your bullet journal style?

It depends on my mood and what I've got going on. I'd love to say I'm one of those minimalist bullet journallers but I'm not. I love adding different colours, I love mixing up styles and I love pinning different font styles on Pinterest to try out on my spreads.

I spent most of November keeping it relatively simple because I knew NaNo was going to be my main creative outlet. With that out the way and the build up to Christmas, I'm using oodles of washi tape and lots of stickers too!

6. What's your favourite spread to set up each month?

Probably my beginning and end of the month pages. Each month ends with a review where I use a traffic light system to highlight the good, the bad and the stuff in between. Whenever I record something bad I try to come up with a positive to it or something I can do better next time. I've never really done that outside of work and study before and it's interesting to look at how things make me feel, or what I identify as being areas for improvement. That's not to say I act on them all, but I feel like it's a valuable exercise.

And my month overview pages since I've started getting a little more creative with them since October. It's when I do my month overview that I select my theme colours for the month ahead (except for this month where the theme is All. Of. The. Washi. Tape!) and also get some sort of idea of the kind of layouts I'll be needing, collections I'll want to make, things I need to plan for, etc.

It's kind of like a reboot each month. Sometimes it's nice to have a fresh start and I get twelve in a year!

7. Where do you get inspiration from?

I see lots of ideas from Bullet Journal social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest), but an awful lot of the time it's just a question of trying out different ideas or combinations of ideas until I find something which works for me.

The good thing about Bullet Journalling is that people who share their ideas don't mind if people take inspiration from them. Sometimes you have to copy something from someone else until you find a way to adapt it to something a little more unique; then you share that and hopefully you'll help someone else find a thing that works for you.

I've been pretty open about sharing my FET tracker which I made back in May, because it worked really well for me so whenever someone posts for help with tracking medication or illness or trying to conceive, I share it. Several people have said they've used or adapted the idea and perhaps one of them will share something someday which I can adapt for my own uses.

It's a wonderfully generous community.

8. What's your bullet journal routine?

Weekdays always end with my bullet journal. I'll fill in my trackers for the day, check off anything I've done, migrate any tasks which need doing and update my list for the next day. Usually I'll check with Mr Click in case there's anything he wants me to add to the list as well.

Then I write up my reflection of the day. This can be anything from a couple of lines to full on paragraphs of information about how I've felt, places we've been, things I've done, etc. If need be, I'll draw up the next day or if it's all ready to go I'll work on some more pages; I like to try and get as far ahead of myself as possible. This is usually done in bed while we're watching TV (currently it's a couple of episodes of Scrubs).

On a morning, after we've walked Tara I'll sit in my chair with a drink and scan over the upcoming day. I might make changes or additions to my list and check off some stuff on my trackers. I carry on checking in through the day, usually in my breaks at work.

Weekends are a slightly different routine. Sometimes I'll spend time as we watch a film in bed working on it. Other times, I'll dip in through the day. I'm more regimented during the week.

9. What's the page you're most proud of?

I'm pretty damn proud of my Jack Skellington picture on my October overview because I spent a long time getting that right (and haven't been inspired to try anything like that since). I'm also pleased with how my Christmas Film list turned out, and the aforementioned FET calendar. The former because of the lettering and the latter because it worked really well, without having fancy lettering or pretty pictures and I plan to crack it out again during our coming cycle.

10. What's your number one tip for beginners?

Focus on finding what works for you before you worry about making it pretty! Yes, it's nice to have something that's Instagram or Pinterest-worthy, but at the end of the day, you don't want to spend more time making it look pretty than you do using it.

I'm a fine one to talk, what with my washi tape and stickers and coloured pens, but that's because I know what works for me now. In the beginning I copied what I saw other people doing and it stressed me out when I made a mistake. It was so tempting to throw in the towel because I wasn't creating a perfect book, until I realised that it's a book for day to day life and day to day life is messy and sometimes you just have to accept that.

And maybe draw things in using pencil first!

If you bullet journal, feel free to tag yourself in the comments and share a link back to your own post here too.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Some More Thoughts On Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Last night we went out to the cinema for another viewing of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Yup, seen it twice in less than two weeks. I don't think I've done that since The Lord of the Rings films!

My local cinema seats about ninety people and there's only one screen. Since it was upgraded the seats are a lot comfier, there are cupholders in the arms now, and we do get films a lot sooner after they come out than in the past. We like to support them because if people don't, we simply wouldn't have a cinema any more. So many small islands and towns don't have one any more.

Even though we'd already seen it, I was perfectly happy to go back and watch it again.

Once again, if you choose to read past this point, you will be spoiled.

Don't read on if you've not seen it yet. Instead, enjoy this Niffler gif:

gif from here.

I will admit that I spent the whole film remembering 'this is where it rained on it', 'this is where I smelled pastries', 'this is where we got violently shaken around' and half expecting it to happen again. Then again, I'm glad we saw the 4DX version first because it allowed me to get immersed in the film, whereas this time I was able to watch the background and take in all the little extra bits.

Like the fact that there is so much attention to detail in the backgrounds. I guess I've seen the Harry Potter films so many times that I just take it for granted that there's stuff in the background, like little Easter Eggs for people who are familiar with the books.

There's plenty in Fantastic Beasts as well.

I noticed a couple of signs in Tina's department. One said 'you don't have to be magic to work here, actually, you do', which someone has helpfully turned into a mug:

There's another one as well which says 'Do not obstruct the path of memorandum', referring to the cute little origami mice running around the place (instead of the paper aeroplanes used by the British Ministry of Magic). One of those little mice takes a peak into the suitcase when Graves shows up to examine just what Tina's complaining about at the start. I missed that last time but it's a neat little touch.

It's worth paying attention around Jacob too. In his room he's got a book which you can see shortly after he's been bitten with a title about the Urban Jungle, pretty fitting considering what he finds himself in shortly afterwards. I also enjoyed watching the cover of the book he's reading at Tina and Queenie's because the cat wanders around all over the place:

I also need to find up with some way of passing messages to my husband in the cinema without speaking because during the interrogation scene between Graves and Newt I spotted something in Graves's pocket which crops up shortly afterwards.

I can't actually find a picture showing it, but in his pocket on the left hand side, you can just make out the Deathly Hallows pendant that he gives to Credence a short time later. I spotted it and kept squeezing Mr Click's arm, wanting him to notice it too, but I had no way of getting my message across to him.

My favourite part of the film will always be when Newt first takes Jacob into the suitcase. I think if I had a suitcase like that, I would just move in permanently. Think of all the labradors and rats I could fit in there!

There is something just so magical about it. I love the way that the different bits of it are sort of sectioned off. I love that there are creatures in there which don't even get an explanation. I hope that we get to see more of them in the future.

I'm curious about how they're going to address the whole wand lore issue, since Grindelwald was defeated which means technically his wand's allegiance should pass to someone else. And I think that person should be Tina. Newt incapacitated him with his Swooping Evil, but then it was Tina who disarmed him. I wonder if that's going to give him a reason to go after her when he inevitably escapes, because otherwise things are going to get very complicated with who really has ownership of the Elder Wand.

Normally things like that would worry me, but J.K. Rowling is pretty good at tidying up things like that, so I'm just waiting to find out how it's going to work.

I just wish it wasn't going to be so long until the next film!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

Is it just me or has December both snuck up us and has been anticipated for weeks now? It feels like both a shock and a case of thank goodness, it's finally here!

I also feel at a little bit of a loose end, since I've done all the Christmas shopping and stuff that normally I'd be starting to panic about by now. I am so unbelievably organised. I'm even checked in for boarding flights which don't leave for almost a month!

We did get our decorations up this evening. Well, most of them. I'll give you a proper tour later on in the week, for now you can enjoy this single non-blurry shot of my Christmas tree:

We spent a good bit of time decorating the tree and arranging our smaller decorations. We've still got the paperchains to go up (some of those things are about three years old now so I might need to do some repairs before they do). That's planned for Saturday.

This is actually one of the latest days for getting our decorations up in recent years. In the past, because of having other things on, we've put them up at the weekend before the start of December. We're pros at it now!

Do you decorate for Christmas? What decorations are your favourites and when do they go up?