Sunday, 17 March 2013

Santa sundays: Book edition

When I read Rivers of London on the Kindle I finished it in one sitting. Then I read it again, then I reluctantly let my husband read it, and then I read it again.  It is one of the best books I'd read in years.  I tell everyone I know who might enjoy it that this is one book they must read.
Smart, genre savvy, with a world populated by characters who are not just straight, white and male- something which is depressingly rare in fantasy, Rivers of London is my kind of book.
The series follows Peter Grant, a police officer and apprentice wizard in his education in the ways of London's other world. Lying somewhere between a police procedural and Terry Pratchett one of the things I liked most about the book was that it took place in a real physical place- much of the books are based in bloomsbury, soho and covent garden a part of London I know well and love.   Unlike many books set in a real place this series depicts it so accurately and the atmosphere and feeling of the district is so right.  No small feat in a fantasy novel.
 I am desperately looking forward to book four, Broken Homes coming out in June.  However if I have to wait til Christmas to get it I think I might cave and buy it myself!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

The gym and self image

Today was my eldest child's third birthday.  Husband took the day off, but eldest was in playgroup this morning.  We had a whole morning with much less childcare than usual.  The sun was shinning.

So what did I do- I went and spent an hour at the gym, doing weights and running, rather than mooching into town for a coffee and some adult conversation with my one true love.

When I joined the gym a month ago it would safe to say that I had not seriously exercised in over a decade.  I'd made a few attempts to start running which had petered out after a little while.  But nothing else.  For along time I'd built my identity as someone who didn't exercise 

The truth was I don't like it when I'm not really good at something.  Brilliant in fact.  But I was pretty good at sports in school, on all the teams even.  But! I wasn't the best, so why would I bother?  And I didn't bother at all.

In the ten years that have passed since my secondary education I have gained several dress sizes and a few stone.  Which didn't bother me that much.  My father has become seriously ill with blood pressure and heart issues, which worried me a lot but didn't really motivate me to change anything.

Then I look at my children.  My wonderful children who love to move, who won't stop running and dancing and climbing and find such joy in it.  I thought about the example I wanted to give them as an adult and knew something had to change.

So I've joined the local council gym.  I was nervous about it.  Friends asked me if I was worried about all the "fit" people judging me, about looking stupid.  And I was, a little bit, but mostly I was worried about being bad at it!  I knew I wasn't going to be able to run at first, or lift as much weight as someone else or bend properly, or well anything.

But I went and did it anyway.  And found the pleasure in the endorphins a good workout will give you.  More importantly though I'm not good at it- I was certainly not any good the first time I went!  I've kept going anyway and I'm getting better and better.  Honestly I love it!  Even when my back is bad I want to go, actually want to!

I'm showing myself and my girls that it's ok to fail, to be wrong, that it's good to keep trying and learn to do better and better.  I've been limiting myself to things I can do without failing.  It's a lot healthier and braver to be failing and doing it anyway.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Santa Sundays: Chocolate from Monty Bojangles

It's been such a busy fortnight here that all the blogging I've managed is these santa sunday's posts.  But hopefully I have an exciting week of new posts ahead of me.
This weeks santa sunday is dedicated to chocolates, I'm not the biggest chocolate eater in the world but I love these have converted me from Monty Bojangles
They are absolutely heavenly  I was given a box by a friend as a house warming gift and was blown away by them- how chocolate ought to taste!
If you love them as much as I do- or just want a stack of excellent little gifts for emmergancies around the place then this pack of 8 Bojangles truffles from amazon is an excellent deal- 61p per pack saving on the rrp!  Just don't eat them all at once.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Santa Sundays: Bernard Green

I have a love, a love of linocut.
Linocut is a form of print making made using a sheet of lino, gouged out to form a relief.  And I love them.
So this is the biggest thing I want for Christmas. (Or as a group present for my big number birthday this year...)

Bernard Green: ‘Blue Wave With Gull’

This linocut captures the essence of a place- a place I love so so well.  The coast around newgale beach, the place I go to feel completely relaxed, like a breath of fresh air to my soul.   I love it.  And this picture, the lines of the waves, the colours, the idea of the sand in the foreground is so perfect.  

It is a little on the pricey side, but then the artist Bernard Green passed away in 1998 which obviously contributes to the cost, but it is beautiful and... well I have no justification- it's just gorgeous!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Santa Sundays: Yarn Bowl

So all year long I suggest things for my husband to buy me for Christmas  birthdays  anniversary.
And he usual makes a note then looses it.  So I've decided I'm going to blog the things I'd like for Christmas or to give someone for Christmas once a week.  Of course at the moment I don't think my husband has bothered to read my blog- he might get a surprise when he does.

This week I've chosen these beautiful bowls from Little Wren Pottery on folksy.
Image reproduced from Little Wren Pottery.  All rights theirs.

I have a real thing for hand made ceramics, ever since I did two terms of pottery as an activity during my IB. My own pots were nothing to write home about but it left me with a strong appreciation of work that goes into them.
I like my object d'art to conform to the principles of the arts and craft movement, if not its aesthetic   This bowl certainly complies!
I can just imagine sitting listening to the radio, crocheting with that bowl holding my yarn, bliss!


Thursday, 21 February 2013

Weekly web comic 1: OOTS

I've spent the last three days feverishly refreshing my browser desperate for an update.  Not about anything vitally important, you understand.  I'm not glued to the Pistorius bail hearing.
No my attention is caught by a web comic.

I've been reading Order of Stick since.... 2007?  Which sounds along time ago until you realise that the comic has existed in its current on-line form since 2003- it will be 10 years old this year!
You might have heard about the comic because of it's record-setting kickstarter fundraiser in 2012, which raised over a million dollars to fund reprints of the print editions of the comic book.  Despite it's wide spread fame and popularity I'm always amazed by how many people haven't heard of it.

The comic focuses on a role playing adventure party.  It's very funny.  More than that it's well written.  This week the writer and creator, Rich Burlew shocked his audience by revealing something he had been foreshadowing for years without most people having an inkling of what was going to happen.
And now I'm even more invested in it than usual- instead of checking it out for an update twice a week or so I'm doing it a couple of times an hour.   Sadly OOTS (as Order of the Stick is known to its fans) isn't updated on a regularly basis at the moment as Rich, known as "The Giant" to fans was in a serious accident last year and still recovering.  So there's nothing I can do but keep hitting the refresh until the next installment appears.

OOTS  isn't the only web comic I read devotedly- I've decided to run a series for a couple of months called weekly web comic to talk about my favourites!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Get down and tidy

So I'm really really rubbish at housework- not in a "I'm too incompetent to physically manage these tasks," sort of way, although the fact that I burnt myself cooking no less than FIVE times last week would attest otherwise.

No, I'm rubbish at it in a "really there are a thousand and one things I would like to do and the washing up isn't one of them."

This means my house is fairly messy.  It also means that I have a panic whenever anyone is coming to visit.  So I've been in a mad rush of procrastination and housework avoidance all day to get out of having to tidy before my outlaws arrive tonight.

One of the only ways I'm able to muster any kind of enthusiasm for cleaning is with musical accompaniment.  I have playlist on my ipod shuffle and I stand at the sink belting out songs, boogying my way through mopping up.
Here are my top two cleaning  songs:

This is The Ark with Hey Kwangoma! from their 2006 Album, State Of The Ark



They are an amazing swedish glam rock band that I have loved for a decade.  They sum up happy lovely dancing fun for me.  And my single days!  And Scandinavia.  The only downside about meeting my husband was leaving Scandinavia and staying in Blighty- I don't think I've stopped morning for Oslo yet.

Then it goes to Patrick Wolf



This song just makes me feel so powerful.  In fact the whole Lupercalia album is so incredible that I gave birth to my second child with it playing through my headphones.  The opening chords just give me a feeling of joy in my heart immediately.  I've seen him live more than once, but the best was at the Laugharne Festival with Patti Smith in 2007/8- a rock legend I had adored since a teenager, having an impromptu jam with Partick's violin- it was magical, and, through the magic of teh internets I can share it with you now!



So my advice is, if you can't muster any enthusiasm for chores, find some music that gets you going and use it as your spoonful of sugar to help the monotony of housework go down!