Thursday, 29 September 2016

Week of Walks - Spain - September 2016

I love exploring new places. Whenever I go abroad or even if I have a single day off in the UK, I tend to pick a town and just wander around its streets. It's the best way to get a vibe for the place and from those peaceful amblings, I get far more of an insight into the culture than just sticking to the touristy sights. Don't get me wrong, I do love a good museum or gallery or a stately home. But better than any of that is simply walking through the town, gazing up at my surroundings.

Which is basically what I did when I visited Spain a few weeks ago.

I was staying in a town called Calella which was about an hour along the coast from Barcelona. It was a beautiful spot and had the best of all three worlds - an intricate and interesting town to explore, the hills behind it and the sea on its other side.

We started off by walking the coast, taking in the beautiful sea views and climbing up the cliffs. There were many different paths set into the cliffside and they took us higher and higher through the woods. On the very edge of one of the cliffs there was a lighthouse to warn passing ships of the jaggedly rocky coastline below. And even higher still were two medieval turrets that used to be watch towers before they fell into disrepair hundreds of years ago and were now simply a small tourist attraction.

From up there we had some excellent views of the town and the hills behind Calella gave us a similar view. By exploring Dalmau Park and again trekking through steeply ascending woods, we had the whole of Calella laid out before us with the sea beyond.

We travelled further along the coast as well, to the town of Santa Susana. At ground level it was very touristy with massive hotels dominating the beach. But if you moved away from them and bothered to climb the hill behind all of those grandly tacky structures, you got a real feel for the historical town. The architecture was lovely and I walked the winding roads until I was close to the top of the hill and could view Calella in the distance.

As we were staying so close to Barcelona I obviously couldn't resist spending a day exploring that wonderful city too. I felt that it was a mixture of many other European cities I had visited. It had the gridded structure and hip-ness of New York with the architecture and beauty of Paris along with the friendliness of London. We spent the entire day walking around it and went from Las Ramblas all the way up to Park Guell so it was interesting to see the difference between the ordinary apartment buildings and the grandness of some of the sights closer to the touristy sights. Gaudi's unique designs which we spotted frequently throughout our walk were also stunning.

So there is my advice for you. Whenever you visit a new place, make sure you do a lot of walking. That's how you can see the reality of the country you are staying in.

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Saturday, 27 August 2016

Buying Back My Time

During a dead period at work the other day I found myself daydreaming about being rich and what exactly I would spend all my money on if I did happen to win the lottery. Is it just me who does this? Please tell me it's not because I have actually found myself doing it an awful lot recently.

And it made me think - why exactly do I want to become a millionaire?

Because, to be completely honest, I don't need or want lots of money. Yes I really do mean that. I am a strong believer in how money can't buy you happiness and how there are all sorts of other stresses that come with having money that we just don't see. On top of which, there isn't an awful lot that I would want to do/buy that I don't do/buy already.

After thinking about the issue a bit more deeply, I realised there was only one true reason I would want to have more money = I would be able to give up my job and use all my time to write and push getting published. Essentially I want to buy back my time.

We all spend a hell of a lot of our waking life working. Time is one of those things which is meant to be inherently ours. We are born and we have a certain amount of it to use how we like. Except we can't. Therefore we spend money to grab some of it back for ourselves.

Mostly, we achieve this through booking a holiday (completely quitting our jobs may be a little too drastic for some). By spending a few hundred quid we manage to secure a week or two of our lives a year that we can use purely for ourselves. We can explore a new place, breathe a different air and totally relax. Essentially we can do whatever we want to do.

I find it so sad that we can't do what we want all the time. It is our life after all, yet we have so little control over it. Which is why buying back our time for ourselves is so very important. Book your weeks off somewhere exotic for an explore and a relax. Give yourself treats. Visit friends and family. Eat, drink, do whatever makes you happy and don't feel guilty for spending that money. Remember that your life IS yours despite the fact the majority of the time, it does not feel like it.

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Sunday, 21 August 2016

What makes the Olympics truly great

The Olympics is like marmite - it is one of those events which you either love or you hate. If you are really into sport, well then I guess this is what your heaven would be like. Sport on telly, all day every day on every channel. While the rest of us just endure, trying not to complain too much (even when the Bake Off is pushed back a few weeks QUEL HORREUR!)

I am not exactly what you would call a sporty kind of gal. I don't play sport, I never watch sport and prefer to sit reading/writing/eating cake/all three rather than attempt to run or do something similarly energetic. But even I get gripped by Olympic Fever.

It happened so slowly that I barely noticed it. At first I treated the Olympics with a certain nonchalance. Oh it's here...fine...if it has to be. Then I had it on in the background while I was doing something else. Then I started watching the odd event and then I looked up when the finals of certain events were, to ensure I didn't miss them.

Because that's what the Olympics does - it sucks you in. We all get swept up into this crazy two week adventure and go totally nuts. We just can't help it.

The reason for this, quite simply, is because the Olympic athletes are so inspiring. They have worked incredibly hard for many years to reach this point of skill and fitness - they are at the top of their game. And because the media bigs up their journey so much, we almost feel like we have been on this journey with them although the television crews can barely scratch the surface of the amount of work that truly goes on. And then we look on as they succeed or we see them fail.

Either way, it is incredibly emotional. These athletes put everything into the tiny amount of time it takes them to compete. Literally everything that they have. They don't half arse it, they don't give up. They fight to the very last second until they can give no more. And the emotions that are produced afterwards (whether that is due to elation or despair) are so raw, it is almost intrusive to watch it. And we go through the emotions with them.

I watched the incredible performances followed by the extreme happiness of so many athletes - Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow, Max Whitlock, Laura Trott, Jason Kenny, Andy Murray, Bryony Page and so many more....and I also saw the crushing disappointment of countless others.

I couldn't help but think what great role models these people are for youngsters. They advocate hard work, determination and never giving up on your ambitions which is an incredibly valuable thing to pass on to children. I hope that there were lots of children watching this summer, who then found out about a sport because one of their heroes won a gold in it. I hope they yearned to be like those people that we saw up on the podium. And I hope they copy them. Because if they do, there will be a great many fantastic Brits in the future.

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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Half a Sixpence

As a theatre blogger/lover/addict (delete as appropriate) I regularly lament that I do not live in London with access to the fabulous West End every night of the year. But when it is summer and you live in one of the most beautiful towns in the UK which boasts one of the best theatres in the country, I don't really have much to complain about.

I am, of course, talking about Chichester Festival Theatre, which I am so lucky to have just down the road from me. This year, amongst other productions, it has put on Half a Sixpence which I was invited to attend on Tuesday night with a group of fellow bloggers.

Half a Sixpence, based on the novel Kipps by HG Wells, is the story of overworked apprentice Arthur Kipps who yearns for a better life and more money. But when he comes into an unexpected fortune, he finds that it does not solve all his problems. He struggles with trying to straddle the two worlds that are as far away from each other as could possibly be - the world of the poor, with his friends and the world of the rich, which he now technically belongs to.

Prior to attending the show on Tuesday night, I made the decision not to watch the film. Perhaps this was foolish, but as this had been adapted by a writer you might possibly have heard of, Julian Fellowes (yes, the Downton Abbey genius!) and new songs had been added by musical dreamteam George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (who helped create shows such as Mary Poppins); I wanted to enter with a fresh perspective too. I didn't want to simply be comparing this exciting, brand new adaptation to the old version the whole time. But I was in good company as Charlie Stemp (who played lead, Arthur Kipps) didn't either

Talking of whom, Charlie Stemp was absolutely wonderful in his first lead role. With a little West End ensemble work already under his belt, Stemp actually auditioned to be understudy Kipps but after circumstances changed for the original lead, he got the role. Proving that sometimes luck and good fortune play a big part in this crazy industry. However, that doesn't take anything away from the fact that he is unbelievably talented. He serenaded, whistled, pranced and banjoed his way through the show with apparent ease. Which isn't easy at all considering that he is on stage for the majority of the runtime. His energy didn't seem to wane though and he definitely made you fall a little bit in love with this slightly doofus-like character as he carried out the plot of the show.

Devon-Elise Johnson and Emma Williams (who played his love interests Ann Pornick and Helen Walsingham) were similarly fantastic. Johnson's girl-next-door portrayal of the often ignored Ann really made us feel for her and the feistiness she brought to the part was spot on. Johnson's vocal prowess was proved time and time again too. From the emotional 'Long Ago' to the extremely comical new addition 'A Little Touch of Happiness' which had us all in stitches, Johnson proved how truly diverse her voice was. Williams, in some ways, had a much harder job in that she played a slightly less likable character. It would be easy to view the character of Helen as this horrible woman who stole Arthur away from his childhood sweetheart. But Williams' performance and stunningly heartfelt vocals allowed you to empathise with her and feel for her big time! Williams did a truly epic job.  

You might not feel like you know this musical but actually it is highly likely that you know at least one of the songs - Flash bang wallop which comes at the very end of this new reworking of the show. Giving the cast no chance to rest, it is this massive extravaganza which ends the show with a (literal) bang. The entire musical is a big spectacle with one huge glittering dance number following another. It is gorgeous to watch. Most of the songs have been adapted in some way to fit the changes that Fellowes made and then there were the additions of a whole bunch of new songs. These fitted seamlessly into the musical and were in keeping with the original score so well that it is hard to tell which are the additional ones. In fact, two of my favourites - 'A Little Touch of Happiness' and 'Pick Out a Simple Tune' - were new ones and I didn't realise until I had looked them up afterwards. One thing is for certain, whether new or old you won't be able to leave the theatre without them buzzing around your head and accidentally humming them.  

I do love the classic musicals and considering the popularity of Showboat, Guys and Dolls and Funny Girl this year, I hope that Half a Sixpence may have an opportunity to Flash (Bang and Wallop) its way into the West End. But in the meantime you can catch it at Chichester until the 3rd September. And if you are under 25 you can get tickets for £8.50 (find about their Prologue scheme here) so you really have no excuse.

**I was very kindly invited to attend Half a Sixpence and meet the cast by Chichester Festival Theatre but, of course, all the opinions expressed here are my own**

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Sunday, 7 August 2016

Harry Potter rewatched

Everyone has been a little Harry Potter mad recently  with the whole excitement surrounding the release of the book version of the play that is currently in the West End (and I still haven't seen. So sad about this!!!) Me included! I grew up with the stories. I mean I was 6 when the first book was read to me and I was 19 when the final film came out. It has literally been my companion throughout the entirety of my childhood.

So I thought to get in on the hype a little bit I would reread all the books and rewatch all the films. This is in fact, is the first I have rewatched the films as an adult, since they first came out. I have been wanting to do it for a while and then my brother gave me a box set of all of them for Christmas. So I did feel it was finally time. And here is my adult perspective of those wonderful films.

Harry Potter 1

This came out in 2001!!! Can you believe it. I was only 9 and the child actors were not that much older. They were incredibly cute!!!

When this first came out, I had to wait until it was on video (yes, video. Do you remember what they are???) and then I watched it over and over and over again. To the point where I could speak the lines along with the film. Even now, I could still talk along with the majority of Hermione's lines (did anyone else want to be Hermione when they were a kid??)

Since this has come out, I have struggled through boarding school and teacher training and I have realised that the teachers of Hogwarts seriously need to work on their disciplinary and general techniques.

Firstly - house points are neither a good deterrent nor a good motivational tactic for teenage kids. They are inherently selfish and don't care a monkeys about their house prestige.

Secondly -  the mixed signals. The teachers set down rules but then casually break them whenever they feel like it (for example when they send Harry, Ron, Hermione and Draco into the forest for detention after dark despite pressing on them how terrible it is to enter the forest/wander the castle and its grounds at night)

Three - their blatant shows of favouritism from Snape, McGonagall and Dumbledore. Really? Of course they are going to have favourites, every teacher does. But it is extremely unprofessional to show that favouritism quite so obviously.

Talking of Dumbledore and Snape, it did hit me half way through just how many of the actors are dead. I am not sure I am over Alan Rickman's death yet!!

Harry Potter 2
When I was a child, this was my least favourite movie out of the 8. I think it was mostly because it was kinda scary. The disembodied voice freaked me out and the spiders wasn't great either - Ron summed it up best when he said 'Follow the spiders? Why couldn't it be follow the butterflies?' Even as an adult, I still jumped when the basilisk appeared out of the water when Harry was down in the chamber.

Saying that, it was also a really really funny movie. There were some great one liners in there. For instance:
'You and that bloody pigeon aren't going anywhere'
'Have you seen my jumper? Yes dear, it's on the cat'
'You're a mess Harry'
'At least no one on the Gryffindor had to buy their way in'
'Oh Harry if you die down there, you're welcome to come and share my toilet.'

Hermione has better hair, Harry's voice has almost broken and Ron has learnt to drive - don't these kids grow up fast?

Harry Potter 3
So the Harry Potters have spent two movies introducing the world in general and the vague plot/threat. But the third one seems to be a lot more settled.

The characters really come into their own in this movie and you find out what they are made of. Hermione is calm, logical and the voice of reason. Ron tells it bluntly how it is. And Harry is kind hearted to the core. When Snape insults him and his father, he defends his father first. And he does the same when he is defending himself/his father to Marge too. And when Lupin nearly kills him but then gets knocked around by Buckbeak, he goes 'poor lupin, he's having a really rough night.'

I love the constant love and friendship that he displays when he is surrounded by his friends and how he is constantly searching for it in Sirius and Lupin in this movie. It's heartbreaking that he is just looking for love and acceptance and he finds it because he is wonderful to all the people he meets despite having a horrific childhood. He really is a great character.

Harry Potter 4
This is basically the one where they are all rubbish with girls. Hagrid puts his hand on his conquest's bum and she says no and he spikes flitwick's hand when he can't keep his eyes off her. Ron gets jealous about Hermione and Krum. Harry dribbles at Cho, and then fails to ask her out. Ron fancies his sister in law, and asks her out by screaming at her. The comedic moments are pretty endless.

In fact, they are great a relief from the dark Voldemort-based events that go on. The opening titles of this film are noticeably darker and the first death that we actually care about, happens. This is the beginning of the adultness of the Harry Potters, and it all just steps up a bit: the acting, the subject matter, the budget and the special effects are all a lot bigger form here on out.

Harry Potter 5
The Order of the Phoenix is the one where Harry finally learns the benefits of friendship. He has always been a bit of a lone ranger throughout the other films especially when facing the threats at the end of the year. He always battled them by himself and he has always been a touch arrogant because of it, putting himself above the others a little bit because of the experiences he has had. But now finally he understands just how important love and friendship is. It ultimately saves him. And he, in return, saves them. It was a joint effort. He's also all the more accepting of people who are different. Losing Sirius was completely heartbreaking and the acting is a lot better, particularly surrounding that event.

Harry Potter 6
This was always my favourite and watching it refreshed that opinion. I love it. There are some really funny lines in it and I think the banterous friendship between Harry and Ron is much more normal than it has been in the previous movies. I love the little moments like when they were fighting over getting the non-tattered potions book, when he was opening up about his love life and when they were talking about girls '[Ginny] is attractive, she has Hermione has nice skin don't you think. As skin goes.' The relationship with Hermione solidified too as the best friend of Harry and the love interest. He was her moral support when she had to watch Ron fawn over Lavender.

Harry Potter 7 Part 1
Everything is stepped up here. Most notably the action. There are long pauses between the different sections of action but when it comes, it is totally enthralling. The mystery surrounding the horcruxes and the hallows keeps you interested. The effects are much better and the deaths start coming from the very beginning. And every single one is heartbreaking. Whether that is Hedwig or one of the human characters, you feel as if you have got to know them all and you care about each one. It is horrible when they die.

Harry Potter 7 Part 2
And this is where it really comes together. Part 1 just seemed to be one long introduction to this film. In fact, all 7 films seemed to be an intro for this. It is fabulous. The amount of action. The amount of characters. The amount of answers you finally get.

Over the 8 films, you really feel like you get to know the characters. The films came out over a period of 10 years and span 7. You literally watch the characters grow up in front of you. You grow up with them. You almost view them as friends. SO when they have hardships, you really feel it. When Harry finally meets his Mum andDad, getting ready to die, your heart breaks. His line - I didn't mean any of you to die for me - it is survivor's guilt big time. The whole thing was beautifully done. The action was wonderfully entertaining, the emotional bits really pulled at your heart strings. Harry shows his humanity again and again. The friendship between the three are shown again and again. And you realise that they are everything to each other. They are the three sides of the triangle and co-exist wonderfully. It is a perfect series.

Preference 8, 6, 7, 3, 2, 1, 5, 4
Favourite character - Draco or McGonagall
Favourite non human character - Dobby obviously

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Saturday, 30 July 2016

The Truth

Whispers have been haunting my every step. Did I kill him? Did I kill him? Did I kill him?

The answer: yes I did.

When I told them, they didn’t believe me.

‘But how can that be? You are only 4 and three quarters. He was 51. You must be wrong, you silly little girl. Who really killed him?’

I did. I really did. I am telling the truth. Mummy always told me I should tell the truth, otherwise my nose will grow and I don’t want to look like an elephant.

Mummy had only just come home when I did it. Daddy had been looking after me all day. I don’t know why. On Saturdays it is always Mummy who plays with me but I didn’t mind it being Daddy. Except when he got cross with me when I asked where Mummy was.

It was very late when she came home. I was tucked up in bed. She came in to kiss me goodnight.

‘I’m sorry I left you with Daddy, it won’t happen again’ she’d whispered in my ear.

I should have said something. Like how much I loved Daddy and how much fun I’d had when we had played. But I didn’t. I was tired. So she left me.

I tried to go to sleep but I couldn’t. Because that is when the shouting began. I tried to ignore it. It happens quite a lot so I did what I had always done. I snuggled under the cover with Ted and pretended I was in a tent. But I got too hot, so I had to come back out again.

I didn’t like the shouting. I hoped it would stop soon. It didn’t. It got worse and worse and louder and louder. I was scared.

I was also worried. I think they were shouting about me. I heard my name. So I did something naughty. I got out of bed.

I tiptoed slowly towards their bedroom, even though I knew I was safe. They wouldn’t hear me. Their door was shut which means I am not allowed in. I went in anyway.

I couldn’t see much. Daddy had his back to me and Mummy was over by the window but I couldn’t see her because Daddy was in the way. They hadn’t heard me come in, so they were still shouting at each other.

‘I don’t want you going near her ever again!’ Mummy yelled.

‘You can’t stop me!’ Daddy bellowed straight back.

‘I can and I will.’

‘You can’t come in here and make demands.’

‘I just did.’

‘You’ve been screwing around all day and this is how...’

It carried on and on like that. And then suddenly Mummy was silent. It was just Daddy shouting and shouting. He was so loud and Mummy wasn’t saying anything. He was very still, barely moving at all. He was just very noisy. So when he stopped I had to see if he was alright. And if Mummy was alright too. 


He whirled around to face me and as he did so, Mummy came into view behind him. She made a swift movement. I watched the light fade from his eyes. Like he was going to sleep. And then he curled up on the floor.

So yes, I am telling the truth. I hope you believe me. Because I have as much blood on my hands as Mummy. And that will stay with me my whole life. I will never forget.
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Thursday, 30 June 2016

What is beauty?

Today is my last day of being 23. Technically it is my last hour. And as I kind of ignore birthdays, it didn't really hit me until this morning.

I was looking in the mirror, doing my makeup (this is the only point in my day that I actually spend any time looking at my face) and it hit me that I am going to be 24. 24!!! That is kind of old. Not actually old. But the kind of old where you should start getting your sh*t together (scuse my French). And mine is very much not together. Mine is very much all over the place.

My thought process then moved on to the physical effects of being another year older. And yes there aren't many but I do notice a few more lines on the face, the odd grey hair appearing (although I am not sure if it was actually a blonde bit. My hair is kinda weird in certain lights/sections) and crinkles appearing when I smile or laugh or talk. Or sneeze. Or do nothing.

And the next progression was this - I found myself, subconsciously and without even really thinking about it, listing out the things I don't like about my face. My thick eyebrows that take SO MUCH EFFORT to stop them from invading the rest of my face, the bags under my eyes, my teeth which aren't quite even, my thin eyelashes and hair and every other undesirable feature. Believe me the list went on for ages.

It made me wonder though, why was it that I 'hated' myself so much? Where have I got this unrealistic, unattainable idea of beauty from?

I blame it on the media (like I blame everything else wrong in this country). But this time I might be justified.

They fill our heads and all our various screens with perfect people. Who are perfectly ordinary people too, yet they happen to have their imperfections edited out and the resulting image is what the rest of us aspire to be.

Those people, the people with the clear skin, the flawless teeth, hair, eyes, bodies, is all a lie. A fairytale that we couldn't achieve if we wanted to and hasn't even been achieved by the people who are paraded in front of our faces all day long.

Part of my aim for my 24th year, starting tomorrow, is to appreciate what I have. To stop comparing myself to all those celebrities who have a team of make-up artists and photoshoppers presenting them as perfect. How boring would the world be if we all look the same anyway? It is time that I take back my face as my own and just deal with it. After all, this is what I have been given. And to be honest, it doesn't really matter what I look like, does it? It's not me that has to look at it all day!

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Friday, 10 June 2016

Mary Poppins

A few months ago you may recall that I wrote all about the excitement I experienced when I went to see one of my favourite childhood films on the stage - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. In that blogpost I listed a few others that I had watched and rewatched religiously as a child. One of which was Mary Poppins. Which I finally got to see on stage at Southampton's Mayflower Theatre this afternoon (it's not often that this London Theatre Blogger manages to get out of the West End and join the UK tours so this was exciting too).

Now, as this ranked higher in my preferred films, my excitement was also proportionately higher. Which meant that I have been as high as a kite for the last couple of weeks, since I booked it.

It helped too that a Strallen sister (Zizi Strallen in this instance) was in the title role. You can always tell that a production is going to be top class if one of them is involved. And she is the most phenomenal dancer. Her singing wasn't of the same calibre but her dancing (and there was A LOT of dancing) was flawless. She swept easily across the stage, making it all look so easy.

The thing about Mary Poppins was that it was just so entertaining. There was always something to look at - from the beautiful scenery, to those huge dancing numbers to the special effects to the beautiful costumes, it all added up to make a spectacular performance.

And she flew. She really did. This was one of many special effects that wowed the little children who made up the majority of the audience. But even I have to admit it was pretty magical to see her arcing over everyone as a kind of stern angel.

The juxtaposition of Mary Poppins' character is much more apparent here than it was in the film. Strallen played her with this beautiful poise that didn't crack throughout the three hour production. She was highly moral yet humorous too. And at times, she was extremely dark. In her effort to teach the children, she was not always outwardly loving but she was loyal to them, which came out particularly in her disposal of the bully after the interval. I love the fact that the theatre production included more of the stories from the original books because you were able to get to know her a lot better and feel like you understood her more.
When I watched this I felt like a child again, filled with wonder and unable to take my eyes from the stage. I was drawn into the fantastical world, to the point where I didn't want to return to reality. And that is exactly what musical theatre should do. Well done Mary Poppins, you were practically perfect in every way.

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Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The Intimidating TBR pile tag

I think I am addicted to buying books. I kid you not, I do an Amazon order a month and buy odd ones basically weekly from charity shops and the like. But I already have SO many (68 to be exact) that I already own and haven't read. Yet. I will one day.

So to examine my shelves and to pay more attention to my ever-growing TBR list, I thought I would do the Intimidating TBR tag. I noticed that Sarah from Sarah's Chapter had done it and I am now jumping on the bandwagon even though I am about 6 weeks late.

1. What book have you been unable to finish?
Vanity Fair by William Thackeray. I started reading this a couple of years ago, while I was writing my dissertation but because I got busy, I put it down for ages, and I then forgot what happened. I do really want to reread the whole thing and will get around to it eventually. Probably later this year. 

What book have you yet to read because...

2. just haven't had the time?
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - it's awfully long isn't it. Another book that I want to read later this year.

3.'s a sequel?

The Red Queen and the other books in the Cousin's War series by Philippa Gregory. I have read The White Queen and I wasn't overly enthralled by it. So I have left the rest of them for now although I do own them all. Gregory has a very old fashioned way of writing and tends to repeat things.

4.'s brand new?
I don't often buy brand new books. And if I do I get so overexcited by them that I have to read them straight away. But my most recent book purchase (although it's obviously not a new book) is a book of Sherlock Holmes stories. They only arrived the other day so I haven't got around to reading them yet.

5. read a book by the same author and didn't enjoy it?

I am a little bit on the fence about Cecilia Ahern. I love Where Rainbows End but really hated How to Fall in Love which I read most recently. So although I own PS I Love You and If You Could See Me Now, I can't be bothered to read them because I don't like her style very much and am a little unsure whether I will enjoy the plots.

6.'re just not in the mood for it?
I have had Dracula by Bram Stoker for a while but I just can't seem to bring myself to read it. I know it will probably be brilliant and I will love it. But it's SO gothic. And I might even find it scary. (I'm a wuss!)

7.'s humungous?

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Have you seen the size of it? It's HUGE. After I watched the BBC series in January (starring the divine James Norton as Andrei) I was like yeah I can do this. So I ordered it. And now I am like, no. So many characters, so much waffle on Russian politics, so many long Russian names. It's going to take me months.

8. ...because it's a cover buy that had really poor reviews?

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I very rarely make cover buys. But this one had an interesting blurb and I liked his others (Cloud Atlas is one of my favourite books). Since then though, I have read a lot of very mixed reviews. I know I should give it a go to see for myself but somehow it's slipped further and further down the list.

9. What is the most intimidating book on your TBR pile?

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. That book is LONG and it has really tiny writing. Again, it's another one I want to read this year. I seem to be saving all the long books for the second half of the year. Whereas I have read 30 already I will probably only read 6 in the second half. If I do actually read this and all the others mentioned above, like I want to. I will keep you posted.

10. Who do you tag?
Everyone in the lovely GG Book Club, I call to you - give it a go and let me know what delightful books you have on your TBR list.

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Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The World of Books

So it turns out that even if you attempt to take the writer out of the gal, you can't necessarily manage it.

My blogging break is going well. I have relaxed about it almost completely and I am really enjoying posting only as and when I feel like it. It gives me the chance to write posts that I really care about, that others can relate to and it gives me more free time. Win win win.

And what am I doing with all this free time? Writing of course.

For many years now, it has been my ambition to have a career as an author. It has always been at the back of my mind that that is what I would REALLY like to do. Even when I was studying to be a teacher, I only chose that career because I wanted the holidays to write. (I soon found out of course, that teaching is a lifestyle not a job and there was no way I was going to survive the classroom without having a breakdown so I ended up not entering the field).

Since graduating from uni almost two years ago, I have been working part time as a piano teacher and a shop assistant.

People find this strange, considering I am so well educated. But for me it is perfect. Retail is a fairly social job that puts me in contact with tonnes of very different people (some of which will definitely end up as characters!); I don't have to think about it once I've stepped out the door and it gives me lots of free time. That's what you need most as a writer! Time!

There are plenty of people, my parents included, who feel like I should go out and get a 'proper job'. That I should be realistic about the likelihood of me actually succeeding in becoming an author and put it on the back burner for a while.

But why should I?

I know this is what I want to do. I know I have a moderate degree of talent and some good ideas that people could love. I know what people read, what's popular at the moment and what sells. I know I can do this.

I also know how ridiculously hard it will be. But to be honest, it is the same as any other career and succeeding in any career these days is hard. You have to work hard, very hard, and fight for everything. You have to be determined that you won't stop until you reach the top. You have to have a lot of self-believe that you will make it and you can't ever give up.

At the moment I have the time, energy and freedom (due to my lack of responsibilities) to actually give this a proper go. So I say again, why shouldn't I? This is my chance and I am going to give it all I've got. Starting right this minute. I will keep you posted.

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