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 :-)

Fresh

Freshers week.

The week when we librarians induct Freshers into the joys of library use.

Only.

They don’t take place in the Library.

We have to trundle over to their departments and get them to use their imagination, shun, shun, shun.

I know. Weird right?

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And we don’t know what will greet us when we get to the allotted room. It could be a small, cosy broom cupboard with a handful of lovely postgrads.

Or as I experienced last week, walking through the door to be faced with a ginormous lecture theatre, tiers of seats rising before my horrified eyes.

A lectern stood in front of me. A lectern with 2 monitors and a bank of IT stuff stacked underneath it and another stack of IT stuff stacked off to the side.

And no “on” switch.

Or at least none of the buttons I frantically pressed turned anything on. At all.

Meanwhile the seats were filling up with a couple of hundred first years.

All obviously expecting entertainment.

I could hear the distant roar of the lions waiting.

And feel my face turning the colour of puréed beet root.

Reader, I turned and fled.

But only in search of a passing, random, tame academic.

Who came and found the cunningly hidden “on” switch.

Unfortunately :-)

And at the end, one little Fresher came up to me and said

“Well, at least you seem friendly”

I take my crumbs of comfort where I can :-)

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Clypping

If you’ve never tried it before, hugging a church is an interesting experience.

Sunday saw us at Painswick, a stunning Gloucestershire Cotswolds town of amber stoned buildings, to see the ancient clypping ceremony.

Painswick was also celebrating the Painswick Feast and the Apple Fair.

You could bring your own apples for pressing.

And buy puppy dog pie from the food stall.

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We were assured the pies contained beef and plum.

Much to the relief of the local puppy population.

Clypping is an olde English word meaning hugging or embracing.

Nothing to do with the topiary in the churchyard

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So after a procession around the churchyard

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The congregation forms a circle around the church, holds hands and then embraces the church

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Afterwards the children are given a coin and a clypping cake

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Sunshine, pies and mad English customs.

Unbeatable. :-)

I Hear You Calling Marian

Name that group :-) (one for you Goths out there)

This weekend we made our long awaited trip to a centre of Christian pilgrimage, Walsingham in Norfolk.

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As an agnostic with sometimes pagan leanings, this weekend was at times an uncomfortable and challenging experience.

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It was also Fascinating

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And strangely moving.

An experience more catholic than Anglican.

A drinking of holy water.

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An anointing with oil.

An invitation (unaccepted) to a laying-on of hands and confession.

A candlelit procession in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham

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This is a special place, whatever your personal faith

Ave Maria.

Renewal

It’s been a little while.

A combination of the horror of the back-to-school routine

Depression at the impending start-of-university-term teaching

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And a little bit of writers block.

A head crowded with thoughts but none of them of interest to anyone but me.

And often not even to me.

But! But. The urge to ramble and waffle is upon me again, brought about by two cheering things

Thing one.
This weekend Averil (hi Averil!) and I are heading over to Walsingham for the candlelit procession to the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.

And possibly fish and chips at the coast whilst we’re over that way.

There may be winkles….

Thing two

Yoga. Ha HA. This week I have managed for the first time, and on one side only, to get myself into the weird arm behind back and other arm around leg holding hands bind thingy.

This is an achievement so momentous I wanted to stop the class so I could do the “running man” whilst shouting “yeah baby”.

But I didn’t.

Om.

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Party

We invited 35 friends to the grand kitchen unveiling at the weekend.

Only, the weekend before this one? the kitchen wasn’t actually quite ready to be unveiled.

And neither was the living room, which we decided to start redecorating a couple of weeks ago.

Because that’s a great thing to do when you’ve got masses of guests due to come to the house very soon.

So it’s been a bit of a whirlwind of nailing, sawing, painting and papering over the last ten days.

But I think we made it.

Just.

Or at least we were able to strategically place furniture in front of the bits that weren’t quite finished.

I think we got away with it.

Maybe :-)

So Saturday was party day. A whirl of cooking and baking

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Triple layer Mississippi Mud Cake

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White chocolate and strawberry cheesecake.

And a lot more that I was too flappy to take photos of.

Squawk.

I make a very convincing headless chicken :-)

Vincent

Still with a bit of an art theme.

As we left Compton Verney we saw an irresistible sign.

For these

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A pick-your-own sunflowers field.

How could we not?

Armed with secateurs the children lost themselves in a field of gold, sunflowers towering above them.

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Bees buzzed.

But thankfully there were no wasps :-)

And the kids picked flowers with blooms bigger then their heads!

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I did have thoughts of getting them to paint the flowers a la Van Gogh.

But in the end we just enjoyed looking at them

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In the immortal words of Coldplay

“And they were all yellow”

Indeed, Chris Martin, indeed.

:-)

Art

It was sunny yesterday.

Youngest child had a play date so this seemed like a good day for a long overdue visit to local Mecca of High Brow Arts and Culture, Compton Verney.

I’ve been wanting to visit this season to catch the Henry Moore/Rodin exhibition.

And yes, with 5 days left for it to run, it was cutting it a bit fine.

But better late than never.

Compton is beeyootiful.

The grounds are stunning

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The house delightful

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And their exhibitions are always interesting and thought provoking.

The setting of the outdoor exhibition of sculptures was spot on.

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A Henry Moore

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But what is it mum?

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And you can’t help but be impressed at the sheer size and visual impact of some of the pieces

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And then you get to tryout some sculpture for yourself!

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Oldest child’s eyeball and entrails installation.

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But what is it mum?

Then a final walk around the sculpture trail

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Is it a Moore? Is it a Rodin?
No it’s Gwendoline the giraffe.

If you get the chance to go ( before 31st August) do! It’s very family friendly and it’s great for the kids to see pieces like these, in a setting like this.

And the chocolate cake in the coffee shop is pretty darned good too :-)