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Archive for July, 2011

Perseverance?

I’m struggling through one of the choices for next month’s Book Group at the moment. When God Was a Rabbit, by Sarah Winman, seemed like a decent enough choice at the last meeting, a few of us had heard good reviews and it’s in the Top 100s, so a fairly safe bet. I just don’t Get It, though. I’m finding it slow, and far from gripping, and it seems such a huge effort to lift it and wade through a few short chapters every evening. I’m very close to giving up – and I never do that!

Maybe it’s me. Perhaps I’m in the wrong mood for another family saga, or maybe it’s my innate aversion to books with ‘Extra Material for Reading Groups’ (it’s like saying, “look at my book, it’s clever and insightful and you will want to have guided discussions on my intellectual sub-plots”). Or maybe it’s just not very good.

Our second book for next month I read several years ago, so had to re-visit in order to recall anything of use. The Cutting Room, by Louise Welsh, is dark, Glaswegian, and bitingly witty. Much more my kind of thing. I liked it even more this time round – perhaps with all the extra wisdom of my subsequent years I could appreciate some of the finer nuances.

I rarely enjoy both books we do each month, but it’s one of the benefits of the group – we pick material that I would often not look twice at in the library, and I have been introduced to some writers I have loved (see Helen Fitzgerald – on Twitter, @FitzHelen). So I do feel as if I should persevere with When God Was A Rabbit. On the other hand, there are so many books I *do* want to read in this ol’ world of ours, and maybe life’s just too darn short to waste on something I don’t love.

Opinions gratefully received.

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For the love of nature

I’m not very good at Outside sometimes. It’s not an admission I’m proud of; it’s just a fact.

I mean, I like the idea of Outside, I have even enjoyed Outside in the past. I like sunshine and I love fresh air. But there is one big problem I have with Outside. It’s the wildlife. The ants, and the wasps, the midges and the frickin great seagulls. I know they are all God’s creatures, and they all have their place in the foodchain. And yet, I can’t reconcile myself to the reality. The great pooping, itchy, creepy-crawly reality.

 

But it looks like I might have to get used to it.

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Ah… how lovely to feel relaxed! I’d almost forgotten what that’s like.

We didn’t think we’d get away this year, as money is tighter than a tight thing wound tight, but my parents were very generous and rented a slightly bigger holiday cottage than they’d planned and took us with them. So we’re just back from a week in Fife, in Lower Largo. We were staying in White Cottage, which was not luxuriously furnished – but the location and views more than made up for that!

There were lots of trips to the park, sandcastles on the beach, and tea drunk in the conservatory contemplating the view (and futile guesses as to the types of birds who paraded themselves in front of us). Trips out, meetings with friends, life pondered and celebrated. All together, the best kind of holiday.

Our view from the house:

We had the obligatory trip to A&E due to a finger-trapped-in-electric-window incident – this was the bath workaround 1.0 –

Strawberry picking at Blacketyside Farm was a real hit, one of the best parts of our holiday. It was great for TWM to realise that strawberries don’t just appear in the supermarket. He loved carrying his tub and filling it with berries – he was no fool though, and accepted all donations from helping hands – and my, were those strawberries delicious. It makes you realise the price we pay for ‘convenience’ food – however fresh the supermarket may claim their fruit is, it’s not a patch on fresh hand-picked straight from the farm.

We spent a day in St Andrews – firstly in Craigtoun Country Park and then in the town itself, catching up with friends who’ve had a very tough year. They are inspirational, and it was wonderful to see their littlest boy looking so well and healthy. Their older boy is the same age as TWM, so they had a cracking time running around together.

And the boys and their daddies experienced the  thrill of the ride – Orient Express eat your heart out…

Oh, and we celebrated a birthday 🙂

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We had family over for coffee this afternoon, so I got out the trusty Hummingbird Bakery book. After a slight hiccup (which resulted in a trip to Asda by hubbie for a new electric mixer) the black-bottom cupcakes emerged… much better than I thought, to be honest! The two mixtures seemed all wrong pre-oven – the chocolate mix was extremely thick while the cheesecake mix was really thin, almost watery. However, 20 minutes in the oven later and –

They tasted an awful lot better than they looked! The chocolate base was quite rich and heavy, but it was offset by the light cheesecake section over the top.

There’s even enough left to take to work tomorrow. Who said bribery doesn’t pay?

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Shoes on sale =  happy mummy and happy small one.


Not white for long

And a happy morning in the garden for all concerned.

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Getting bigger

TWM has a current favourite book – The Busy Truck – in which the truck stops at several shops: the ice-cream, the balloon, the toy, and the cake shops. Then it goes to Ben’s house, because it’s Ben’s birthday today. On Sunday, that truck stopped at our house too – for TWM’s second birthday. Eep, my baby is growing up!

To cap it all off, on Monday I took the sides off the cot – he’s been getting closer to climbing out recently and I didn’t fancy finding him in a heap on the floor, so toddler bed it is. Handily, he got a new duvet and pillow for his birthday, so he’s all set. Two nights in and it’s still a novelty, and he’s not been up any more often than he would be normally. He loves his ‘big boy bed’ –

Not sure why we needed the hat, but apparently it was a non-negotiable. It’s about picking your battles!

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Turn off the TV…

Normally, on a Friday evening, at the end of the working week – by the time washing has been hung up, another load put away, dinner’s been made and eaten, TWM’s been bathed and put to bed – I’m good for nothing. A stupor on the sofa watching some trashy TV and a mooch around t’interwebs is about all I can manage.

This evening was beautiful. So I dragged myself up, into my trainers, and went out for a run instead of just falling onto the sofa. I only ran 3.5k, but I feel fab now. I’ve not eaten junk, and I feel I’ve earned my couple of hours relaxation afterwards.

Exercise makes you feel better. Who knew?!

 

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