Snap crackle and pop

Today I went to a chiropractor for the first time.

All part of my constant, ongoing, and I fear, futile, quest to one day do the Lotus.

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Apparently I have boney growths where boney growths should not be

Explains a lot that does.

I lay on the torture treatment table, enjoying the gentle massage and chat of the chiropractor.

And then, with absolutely no provocation, she turned into a sadistic all-in-wrestler, jumping with all her weight on my back and getting me in what I can only describe as a half nelson.

A slightly surprised squeak may have escaped me at this point.

But that was drowned out by the alarming noises coming from my joints.

I did feel much better afterwards.

Though I fear this may be like the time I went to a Turkish Bath in Istanbul with Helen (hi Helen).

You could spot the Brits as they were the only ones still wearing clothing:-)

And the therapeutic massage involved being whacked with wet rolled up towels.

I know.

In retrospect I think there may have been an element of pay back for many years of Colonial rule.

Very therapeutic for the masseurs though.

Anyway.

Yoga on Friday.

I managed to do a sideways arm balance thing.

And drew an astonished “Where did that come from?” from my yoga teacher.

It’s always edifying to find that other people have as little faith in your abilities as you do.

I call it managing expectations :-)

So for all those fellow doubters out there (I.e. everyone who knows me), I went home and did it again

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See those rigid toes? That’s fear that is :-)

Om.

Fiction Friday

Yoga on Wednesday.

“Do you want to try some back bending?” Asked my teacher in much the same way as you would ask if someone fancied a custard cream with their cup of tea.

“Oh go on then” I said. In the same spirit.

Which is how I found myself lying face up on the floor, grasping my teachers ankles, grimacing furiously (I expect he wore the same facial expression but I was looking between his legs at this point) whilst the poor guy tried to heave me up into something approaching a graceful curve rather than a wooden plank.

I suspect he may not ask again for a while.

This Week I Have mostly Been Reading

IMG_0397.JPGNight after Night by Phil Rickman

Two nights.

That’s how long it took me to read this book.

Staying up well past my bedtime

Hairs on the back of my neck standing up more with each (virtual) turn of the page.

The premise? A haunted house. A reality TV show. Teams of sceptics and believers locked in the property together for a week.

The suspense and creepiness is built up gradually and inexorably. Rickman is an absolute master at building up suspense and a sense of lurking doom and horror without actually delivering the punch.

Until you least expect it.

A return of some characters readers of previous Rickman books will recognise fondly including Grayle Underhill and Cindy the cross-dressing shaman.

Fab fab fab.

I really must do a return visit to Sudeley Castle and Belas Knapp.

In the daylight. :-)

Next Week I Will Mostly Be Reading

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Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch.

Not sure what’s been going on with the publication of this book.

It was due last summer, then this November, then the publication date was put back to next summer, then it suddenly appeared as a Kindle book (at which point I quickly bought it in case they changed their minds again). And now I see the hardback is now available for purchase.

Get it while you can.

Vol 5 in the brilliant Rivers of London series.

A series which saw me unable to travel on the London Tube without being seriously creeped out.

And which justified my long and unrelenting dislike and mistrust of Punch and Judy.

Really looking forward to this.

Fiction Friday

A postscript on the trip Oop North.

Sunday saw us shivering around Housesteads Roman fort.

Well, you can’t really visit Northumberland and not go to The Wall.

A masterpiece of ancient architecture

An unsophisticated attempt at apartheid

Bleak.

And very very cold.

I have never been to The Wall and not been cold.

It certainly makes you appreciate what those displaced centurions would have felt like, with the bitter winds whipping up their togas :-)

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And the thing the kids will remember from this trip?

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Roman loos.

And after an hour wandering around in the freezing cold, they actually started to look quite inviting.

Especially with the sound of moo-ing in the background.

It was just like being back in Hestons Little Chef.

Plus ca change…

This Week I Have Mostly Been Reading

Well unfortunately Gideon Mack has been put on hold whilst I have been racing through the first five volumes of The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

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Racing because oldest child has been voraciously devouring these books and as they are, again, young adult books I wanted to give them a quick scan before handing them over.

And I have to say, these are so good.

Gripping, excellent story line, nice dose of biblical references which went completely over Oldest Childs head (” Who was Cain mum?”), lots of teenage angst over identity and friendships but not in a navel gazing Twilight way.

So so good.

And currently on special offer in The Works!

Even better :-)

Next Week I Shall Mostly Be Reading

Bwa ha HA!

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The New Phil Rickman.

Bought today and delivered instantly to my Kindle.

Reasons to be grateful #564 :-)

Oop north again

Another weekend away.

This time visiting Averil ( of the Calendar Customs web site fame) and John. (Hi Averil and John :-) )

The journey up north, on a Friday, is always horrendous.

This time was no exception – nose to tail traffic, roadworks, fog. Lovely.

But we do have something en route to look forward to.

It’s a tradition.

We stop at the Heston Blumenthaled Little Chef on the A1 and visit the moo-ing loos.

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The loo ceiling is painted to look like a sunny day. And the toilets gently moo and baa at you as you relax to the sound of a stream gurgling in the background.

It really should be a tourist destination in its own right.

Saturday the boys stayed home for a mammoth board gaming session whilst Averil, Youngest Child and I caught the bus into Newcastle to try and wrestle up a bit of festive spirit.

Fenwicks Christmas window.

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You cannot see this and not feel like Christmas is just around the corner.

Youngest Child then attempted to eat her way around the world with Sushi for lunch followed by a Freshly cooked crepe from the French creperie in the Grainger market, followed by macarons from the French artisan baker, followed by bubble tea in Newcastles China town

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By the time we’d also gone down to see the revamped Quayside (not a dodgy nightclub in sight)

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St Nicholas cathedral

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And the disturbing vampire rabbit

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We were just about able to stagger back to the bus station to catch the bus back to Corbridge.

And I even heard a “bobby dazzler” and an “oh la la” during our wanderings

Perfect :-)

Remember

It’s funny how the things right on your doorstep are the things you cease to notice.

Youngest child had a homework assignment to find out about Warwick, our County town and right next door to Leamington.

I can’t remember the last time I actually visited Warwick as opposed to driving through it to get somewhere else.

It was a beautiful day yesterday.

The sky was blue

The sun was shining

The air was crisp and cool.

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We arrived just in time to watch the Remembrance Sunday service at the War Memorial near St Mary’s Church

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Beautiful and moving.

The gun shots scared a flock of birds that had been roosting in the church tower, and they swirled overhead throughout the service

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I tried to explain freemasonry to youngest child as we passed the Warwick Lodge

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But the more I explained the less it actually made sense :-)

The veterans from The Lord Leycester Hospital were at the Remembrance Day service in their finery, so we went to admire the Hospital

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And then warm up in their tea room

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Damn fine coffee :-)

Our tour finished with a trip to St Mary’s to admire the Beauchamp chapel with it’s superb monuments, possibly amongst my favourite group of dead people in the country

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And a final view over the river to Warwick Castle

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History, pageantry, memory and memorials.

A perfect winter Sunday.

Boo

Happy Dia de Los Muertos, happy Halloween. Samhain greetings.

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There were a few surprised faces when I answered the door yesterday.

And that was before I applied the make up (ba boom)

Five hyped up 8/9 year old girls.

And three trying to be cool but also actually quite hyped up nearly teenage boys.

I was ready for bed by 9.30.

But they were still going at 1am.

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A bowl of eyeballs

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Apple bobbing

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Red velvet blood cakes ready for decorating

And

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Death by chocolate cake.

The streets were packed with trick or treaters.

But I think the noise levels from our small group of girls outdid the rest of them put together.

Ears were bleeding :-)

May your Winter to come be a snug and cosy one.

T’North

It’s been another one of those weeks

Loads of teaching

A lecturer who was most insistent that we organise some sessions for his students

And then forgot to tell them.

A lecturer who arranged a session for approx 35 students and then phoned up the day before to ask if 81 would be a problem.

But it’s all fine.

Really.

And then this weekend a long anticipated trip to meet up with our friends in the north

Two days in York.

Shopping

Eating

Fabulous Tapas at Ambiente
And a fabulous Spanish waiter too (hi Carole! :-) )

A ghost walk

A sing song at the Golden Fleece (I blame the spirits ;-) )

A city of the heavenly

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And the diabolical

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And damn fine breakfasts at Bettys

Thank you Ladies, and here’s to the next one! :-)

Snot bubbles (AKA Fiction Friday)

This Week I Have Mostly Been Reading

20141017-063349.jpg The Fault In our Stars by John Green
I have seen the pictures of mass hysteria at the cinema with bedraggled, mascara smeared teens sobbing their way, blinking, into the daylight.
I approached the book forewarned and forearmed with a healthy degree of cynicism

By chapter two I was sobbing on the sofa.

Chapter twenty one had me in a state of collapse. Think Juliet Stevenson in “Truly, Madly Deeply”, raw and sobbing, snot bubbles and all.

Readers, it was not pretty.

It was at this point that Oldest Child staged An Intervention and wrestled the book from my tear sodden hands and told me to go upstairs and lie down and get a grip on myself.

He now refuses to touch the book with a ten foot barge pole.

So yes.

A book that goes through every cliche but still manages to suck you into the story and spit you out the other end.

Even whilst you are completely aware of how the author is playing you like a, like a banjo!

Remind me not to watch the film.

At least not in public.

Next Week I Shall Mostly Be Reading

20141017-064617.jpgThe Testament of Gideon Mack

A novel exploring faith and belief and the existence of Satan.

A bit of light relief after the last book then.

:-)

Pumpkin Spice (ish)

So, Starbucks have brought out their Pumpkin Spice Latte. It must be autumn.

I succumbed.

I bought one.

And having been mostly sugar free for weeks I found I couldn’t (gasp) drink it. It was so sweet I nearly gagged.

Which makes me worry the gingerbread latte they bring out before Christmas might be similarly un drinkable.

In which case I will be cast into a veritable slough of despond.

But I digress.

Pumpkin spice? How about pumpkin spice muffins?

Mmmmmmmm.

Only.

Being organised as always I didn’t actually have any pumpkin in the house.

So….

Taaaa daaaa!

Sweet potato spice muffins.

I know.

Not quite the same ring, but work with me on this one.

You Will Need
175g sweet potato (steam or boiled until tender then lightly mashed)
100g whole meal flour
100g self raising flour
75g butter, softened
2 eggs
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp stevia (plant based sweetener also known as xylitol)
2tsp baking powder
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to gas 4 or 180c

Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl

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And beat to combine well

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Spoon into muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes

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Once they are nicely browned and firm to the touch, remove from oven and allow to cool

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Now add your choice of frosting. I combined some cream cheese with maple syrup and spooned that on, topping with a pecan. I found this amply sweet but everyone else reacted like they’d just sucked a lemon so you may want to try a butter icing ( perhaps with a swirl of Dulce de Leche for a caramelly, sticky toffee vibe?)

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So, a serving of vegetables and sugar free.

Result!

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Fiction Friday

On Tuesday I decided to try a bit of yoga self practice.

Full of enthusiasm (ish) I took myself up to the peace and quiet of the guest bedroom where I could wobble and grimace without fear of scaring any passing postmen.

Immersed in the pain moment, I reached the, very attractive, karna pidasana pose which basically involves wedging your head between your knees, bum waving in the air, face as red as if you are trying to give birth to something the size of a baby elephant.

At which point I heard a faint scratching at the window and looked up to see the shocked face of the window cleaner.

This Week I Have Mostly Been Reading

IMG_0356.JPGThe Waterproof Bible by Andrew Kaufman.

A really interesting read. A disparate group of characters – Rebecca who broadcasts her emotions, Lewis who skips his wife’s funeral and then meets a woman who claims to be God, Aby, a green, gill necked aquatic woman trying to save her mother from damnation caused by living out of water – weirdness abounds, but in a good way. Kaufman weaves the separate stories together into an entertaining and compulsive narrative. Excellent.

Next Week I shall Mostly Be Reading

IMG_0359.JPGThe Fault in Our Stars. Thought I would check this out before setting oldest child loose on it as I’m not sure how “adult” this “young adult” book gets. Having seen the photos of distraught, tear stained teens coming out of the cinema after seeing the film am slightly concerned I may disgrace myself by weeping through most of the story.

Tissues are at the ready :-)