Sun and slime

The first sunny day in what seems like forever.

The 2015 man-free holiday.

An annual tradition,  a few days of catch-up chat,  laughter,  and the opportunity to see some of the more eccentric aspects of British life.

Today we headed to Brightlingsea for the Opening of the Oyster Fishery.  

The Mayor and the great and the good headed off in boats

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Proclamations were made and a long lunch was had to celebrate the start of oyster season.

Well,  there is now an ‘r’ in the month.

Shockingly,  there is nowhere in Brightlingsea to sample oysters so we headed down the coast to Whitstable,  a fab,  retro,  slightly bohemian seaside resort on the Kent coast.

Couldn’t move for oyster shops there!

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I’ve tried oysters before,  and yes,  they are still disgusting second time around.

Imagine swallowing a giant,  slightly salty and fishy tasting bogey and you’ll get the idea.

Not that I’ve ever tasted a giant,  slightly salty and fishy tasting bogey.   But if I had,  that’s what it would be like.

Hope no one’s eating as they read this!  🙂

Hops and cream teas tomorrow.

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Disturbing (AKA Fiction Friday)

It’s been a long time since I last visited Stratford Butterfly Farm

In fact youngest child was about 3 the last time we visited.

That was the time I turned my back for a minute and she decided to pet a butterfly.

Only, 3 year olds are not renowned for their finesse and fine motor skills.

I do hope it wasn’t an endangered species.

Ahem.

So, it’s been a while.

And what are you greeted with when you visit nowadays?

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A shop mannequin with the top of it’s head chopped off, and filled with plants.

As youngest child said as we approached it

“Well, that’s a bit disturbing”.

This Week I Have Mostly Been Reading

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.

This is the perfect early summer read.

It is the story of Ove, a man who at first appears bitter and unpleasant but whose tragic background, good heart and stubborn defense of his own, old fashioned, moral values and code of ethics lead, ultimately, to his rehabilitation.  You’ll laugh and, if you’re like me, you’ll weep buckets (earning plenty of eye rolls from oldest child).  This is a real feel-good story.

Next Week I Shall Mostly Be Reading

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.

It’s been on my wish list for a few years.

Hope  it’s worth the wait.

Fiction Friday

I’m not a gardener.

I sometimes kid myself that I am.

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But that only lasts as long as the nice weather does.

Real gardeners tend to be out there in all weathers.

They nurture,  they tend,  they nurse.

They dont just bung the plants in and hope for the best.

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But sometimes.

Sometimes.

Bunging in and leaving the rest to nature?

Works.

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This Week I Have Mostly Been Reading

Walking Home by Sonia Choquette.

Which isnt a work of fiction.

Not exactly.

When her marriage breaks down and she unexpectedly suffers 2 bereavements,  Sonia Choquette decides to undertake an 820km pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago. This book describes her journey- physical,  mental and spiritual- and the stories of the people she met along the way.

I am trying to be yogic and non judgemental about this.

But this is a woman who sees fairies.

Who puts her crippling blistered feet down to the workings of Spirit

rather than the fact she bought her walking boots a couple of days before starting her walk and didn’t wear them in.

And who knows?

Perhaps the Spirit does move in mysterious ways.

But,  in spite of being slightly deranged,  (must not judge,  must not judge),  Choquette is an endearing character.

And her descriptions of battling with her experiences,  her expectations and her self are fascinating and honest.

We all need some time away from the stress and busyness of life in order to remind ourselves of who we really are.

Most of us just dont need the fairies to help us find it.

Next Week I Shall Mostly Be Reading

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.

A book about a grumpy middle aged bloke.

Obviously a work of fiction then.

🙂

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 🙂

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.

🙂

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 🙂

Fiction Friday

This Week I Have Mostly Been Reading

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Girl In the Box by Robert J Crane.

Surprisingly good!

A series of books about a teenage girl with superpowers and her work with a shadowy organisation called The Directorate.

I know.

So far so predictable.

But these are actually thoroughly enjoyable stories. Fast-paced, well-written, funny. They draw you in.

And the first three vols are available free on the Kindle.

What have you got to lose?

Next Week I Shall Mostly Be Reading

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It’s been sat on my bookshelf for about three years.

But I’m finally going to do it.

I’m going in.

Fiction Friday

This Week I Have Mostly Been Reading

IMG_0110.JPG The Blue Knickers Of Happiness.

I absolutely loved this book.

The stories of a disparate group of seekers who end up together on a silent retreat in the Himalayas. The book deals with the widely varying reasons and circumstances that result in people searching for that elusive meaning in their lives – some deal with the quest for enlightenment as an almost scientific experiment, others end up there almost by accident (ah, but is there really such a thing as an accident? Is it not just the universe conspiring to teach you a key lesson? 🙂 ). It also chronicles the wildly varying ways the characters deal with ten days of silence and limited interaction with other people, stuck in the noise and chaos of their own heads.

The book was hilarious at times, poignant at others.

And, almost as an aside, you do learn an awful lot about meditation and Buddhist thought.

Cool.

Next Week I Shall Be Reading

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Girl in the Box. The “something borrowed” from my summer reading list.

Superpowers, mysterious agencies.

A bit different to my usual fare…

Fiction Friday

You can tell no one else is out of bed yet – worn out by so much fresh air and walking.

Two posts in one day?

On a mission!

This Week I Have Mostly Been Reading

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Another good book.

A Jewish woman, (an aguna – neither married nor divorced as her husband has disappeared) stagnating in the mild disapproval of conservative Jewish society, gradually carves out a meaningful and liberating existence for herself as a patroness of artists.

Beautifully written.

Gentle.

A slightly trite ending perhaps, but it doesn’t spoil the story.

Nice.

Next Week I Shall Mostly Be Reading

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The “blue” bit of my list of summer reading.

A silent retreat?

Some days that sounds too tempting for words
🙂