Monday, 29 April 2013

Review of Far From the East End by Iris Jones Simantel

This is the moving memoir of Iris born just prior to the start of world war II and her tale of growing up during the war years.  The tragedies and torment of being evacuated to Wales at the tender age of five and having to deal with being torn away from her parents.  Whilst reading this book and having Charlie whose almost five I just couldn't comprehend how I would be able to send him off on his own on a train to live with strangers and not see him for years.  Not see him grow up.

It's so difficult to fully comprehend the children of today to the children of yesteryear.  Iris talks about being kicked out into the street to play at 4 years old.  Picking over the bombsites and getting into all kinds of mischief.  I don't let Charlie or Faye for that matter out of my sight half the time.  They are certainly never kicked out to play and when they do go and play on the front I'm like a cat on hot bricks constantly checking their whereabouts.

This book had such vivid descriptions that it was so easy to put yourself in Iris's shoes and feel her heartbreak and share her laughter.  Growing up certainly wasn't easy for her and it's definitely left its scars. She's a little fighter and is full of spirit and certainly doesn't let things get her down. 

Meeting a GI and falling in love, Iris is married at the tender age of 16 Iris and once again torn apart from her family as she embarks on her new married life to America.  Embarking the troop ship for her long voyage I flicked the page only to scream out, "NOOOOOOO, " The book can' t possibly end there I need to know the happily ever after.

Phew I was relived to read that there is a follow up due for release shortly and mines on order.  This book certainly touched a nerve with me and I would recommend this to anyone.  I'm counting down the days until the sequel.

Sunday, 28 April 2013


We had a brilliant but tiring day out at the Eureka children's museum in Halifax.  The kids said, "It was the best day out ever" and I have to admit we did have great fun.

On arrival we headed to the street and the kids dashed into the miniature 'Marks and Spencers' complete with mini trolleys, tills and work uniforms.  Funny how the kids normally hate the weekly food shop but here I had to drag them out.  Then it was into the bank where we used the cash machine, deposited out cheques, entered the vault and did a little bit of safe-breaker whilst checking out the CCTV monitor's. A quick trip to the post office to pop on our jackets and grab our heavy post bag and deliver some post. Before finally heading into the garage to fill up with fuel, go through the car wash and even carry out an MOT and fit some new tyres.

From there we went underground to see how the gas pipes are laid before heading back upstairs into the house.  A quick meal preparation in the kitchen complete with mini appliances saw Faye cooking up a storm.  Charlie is fascinated with water and therefore loved the bathroom section which showed him where all the water comes from and goes to when you flush the toilet and run the bath.  Into the bedroom we went to find the cupboards full of good and bad dreams.  The kids drew some pictures of their bad dream pictures and posted them to 'Baku' who took them away forever.  Charlie then said, "Mummy, I have a bad dream every night so can we come everyday and post them?"
"I think we might have to save them up for the next visit" I replied. 

After all that we were starving and of course the weather was a bit cold, wet and windy so the thought of a picnic outside didn't seem much fun. I was delighted to find that they actually had a number of indoor picnic areas.  We opted to sit in the disused railway carriage and have our picnic. This was great fun especially as this was located right opposite the train station so Charlie was in his element watching the real trains whizz past, although he was a little nervous that out train was going to take off somewhere.

We spent a good deal of the afternoon in the their new exhibit, "all about me."  From electronic measuring devices to photos that allow you to see yourself in years to come, mine wasn't a pretty sight I can tell you.  I really was impressed by how educational this section was but such good fun.  Faye loved this section as it really tied in with the work she has been doing at school on the senses so my trip was perfectly planned.

A visit to the midwives allowed the kids to scan the pregnant ladies tummy and feel the baby kick.  It was then off to the dentists to find the wobbly tooth and learn all about our teeth.  A quick check up at the doctors led to us entering a giant machine that performed a fully body scan of us.  The funniest part of the day was definatly the giant nose complete with nose hair and bogeys.  Charlie ran a mile when he popped his head up the nostril to get a closer inspection of the bogey and the nose went haaahaaachoooo and sprayed snot all over his hair.  He wasn't impressed and didn't go back for a second look.

All in all it was a fantastic day out and what's better is we now have an annual pass so can return for free which I definitely plan to do.

Friday, 26 April 2013

My First Story Post.

Eeek.  It's a bit scary but I have taken the plunge and posted my first story on readwave for everyone to see.  It's another big step on my writing journey.  Looking back at just how far I have come it's fairly amazing.  When I read some of my earlier stories from just a year ago they are pretty awful and no, I won't be posting those for people to read, I'm thinking the shredder might be the place for them, but then again being the hoarder that I am, I think they'll be filed away somewhere. You never know they might be ok with total re-writes and there could be an idea in them somewhere.  You might think the same about the one I have allowed you to read but believe me it's a vast improvement to my first attempts. 

I am nervous allowing people to see my work, I guess maybe it's just a confidence thing.  Then again I was nervous writing my first blog post two years ago and I'm now coming up to my 10,000th page view so I must be doing something right.

Anyway, enough of my wittering.  Here's my story.  Please let me know what you think and feel free to leave any comments good or bad.

Read on

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Paintbrushes at the Ready!

I'm in DIY mode at the minute which is a bit scary because I know what happened last time.  Whenever I have a lot on my mind or something kicks off in my life I have these mad urges to start ripping my house to bits and re-decorating.

I've not done anything drastic at the minute but that could all change soon.  I have been known in the past to simply decide at 8pm on a Friday night to decorate the kitchen.  This then involves staying up all night sanding and painting.  A lot of people will probably think it nuts but I actually find in quite therapeutic.  Although it's not so good the next day when you are shattered and have to hyperactive kids to look after.

I've made a little start today by sorting out some rather big annoying problems with the bathroom.  My bath tap for the hot water died on my a few months back and as I'm more of a shower person than a bath person I've put off having the repairs done.  However, it's rather annoying when you feel a bit off colour and just fancying wallowing in a really nice hot bath and then realise that you have to start filling up bowls of water just to fill the bath.  By the time you have filled it deep enough the water is kinda luke warm rather then bum burning hot.  I like to get out of the bath with my skin red and rosy not blue and pimply.

Anyway the plumbers scheduled to come next Thursday so this afternoon I was off the shops to purchase the taps. Blimey, I didn't realise just how much those contraptions cost.  I just wanted a tap.  Something not to fancy but that looked nice and modern.  I had a hot sweat when I saw the price of the ones I had in mind.  £200 for a set of taps and that was just for the bath I then needed anther £150 for the basin.  Not a chance. I'd need them diamond encrusted to pay those prices. I've managed to track down some that are rather nice for a fraction of the price. To me they have still cost a fortune but my bubble bath next Thursday will hopefully be worth it.

So whilst I'm in bathroom buying mode I've also got a new bath panel to replace my old cracked and  discoloured one.  I've managed to fit that this afternoon. As with everything in my house it was no easy task.  How when something is exactly the same size as the one you've removed does the new one not fit? A little bit a bashing and banging and a lot of effing and blinding and ta da all in place and looking good.   My wobbly toilet seat has also gone and been replaced with a shiny new one with all singing and dancing slow close lid which also cost a small fortune.

I'm just looking around and debating where to start on next.  The hallway? Maybe.  The living room? Naah.  What about my bedroom? Hmmmmm....

Monday, 22 April 2013

Review of The Bay at Midnight by Diane Chamberlain

I really enjoyed this book, hence the fact I read it in 3 days.  Set in a lovely little idyllic seaside town the descriptions just make you want to jump right in the sea and start splashing around.  Just pages in and your caught up in the Bauer and Chapman families escapades.

Both families have seaside retreats next to each other and the families have spent long happy and tragic summer vacations together.  Set in both 1962 and the current day the author reflects back on the events of one fateful summer that tears everyones life apart.  Filled with intrigue, passionate love affairs, racism and most of all family and the strength of the family bond.

This book was a real page turner and you couldn't help but warm to Julia whose been carrying a heavy burden of guilt for the last 40 years.  With a letter from the blast bringing old memories to the surface is she strong enough to deal with the issue as well as a wayward teenage daughter and a recent divorce.

My only criticism of this book is I did actually work out half way through some of the twists and turns that were about to happen but never the less I enjoyed this book from start to finish.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Very Creative Weekend

Well here goes this weekend I have started work on my first novel.  Well I've had numerous attempts before but not really got past the first stage, I've always fallen at the first hurdle.  Now after spending quite some time leaning about the craft of writing I feel that I'm at the stage where I want to properly give it go.

I had an idea a couple of weeks ago that I have been spending time just thinking over.  This weekend I have actually put pen to paper, yes I cannot work straight onto the computer,  I need to get my thoughts down using the good old fashioned method.  Today I have worked on the story outline and character profiles.  I'm determined this time rather then wading in with two feet and promptly sinking I going to make use of the advice I've read and plan, plan, plan before writing the heading Chapter One.

Watch this space who knows maybe in a years time I might just, fingers crossed, have my first completed book.

On top of all that I have also sat and edited two stories I've previously written and drafted another short story.  Not sure where I'm going to send these as yet.  With my new story it was one of those moments that I the idea sprang to mind and I had to just sit and write it.  Regarding the other two I've actually missed the deadlines for the competitions they were aimed at but I'm sure I can still find a use for them.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

First sit in the garden.

I'm writing this from a little corner of my garden that is currently bathed in sunshine and sheltered from the breeze.  If I close my eyes I can almost image that I am far far away and sat on some Greek Island on the veranda of a little white washed villa,  Ahhh, we can all dream.  For now my own back garden is just as nice.

I managed last weekend to get out and spend a bit of time working on the garden so it's all looking fairly tidy.  The plants are finally starting to show signs of coming back to life and I can now see numerous little green buds and splashed of colour beginning to appear. 

It so nice to be able to sit outside with the sun on your back.  The kids have gone out for the day with their dad.  The other kids that live down the street and there's quite a few have all magically disappeared somewhere.  This just leaves me,my laptop, a nice cup of coffee and the birds singing in the trees.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Review of The girl who played with Fire and the Girl who kicked the Hornets Nest.

I've finally finished reading the Millennium Trilogy and due to not having as much time these last few weeks I've opted to combine the review and write about them both.  The girl with the Dragon Tattoo could actually be a stand alone book but I'm in no doubt that you definitely cannot read, 'The girl who kicked the hornets nest' without reading 'The girl who played with fire' first.

I have to confess that at times I have found the books a little hard going.  There is not doubt that the story line is phenomenal and the characters amazing but some of the political stuff just went straight over my head and I did have to on occasion go back and re-read chapters just to keep up with events.  Sometimes the sheer number of characters involved threw things out for me especially those with very similar sounding names.

A book unveiling a scandal around sex trafficking opens a whole can of worms and ends up with numerous murders being committed of which, Lisbeth Salander is the prime suspect. The outcome of which is she ends up getting shot in the head before finally being apprehended by the police.  The layers of the books are then revealed chapter by chapter until we reach the breath holding climax of the trial and the publication of the book.

These books are packed with vicious plots, scandals and sexual encounters.  Salander is without a doubt the most intricate character I have met in a long time.  As you progress through the books more and more of her horrific past is revealed and you can clearly see how she became like she is.

I'm glad I've managed to sit and read these books and they are brilliant.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Happy Smiley Faces

Yesterday didn't bring the good news we were expecting,  In fact, it brought no news at all.  Dad was still in the hospital with a lot of doctors paying him visits scratching their heads and shrugging their shoulders.  Last night was the last straw and at 10pm I sat down to write a second e-mail of complaint to the hospital.  By the time I had finished it was like war and peace and a while catalogue of errors were highlighted.  Consequently I spent most of the night wide awake my brain in overdrive and refusing to switch off. 1.30am saw me put down my book and switch off the light. 2am saw me switch my light back on and proceed to read 3 more chapters of my boo.  Finally I fell into a fitful sleep where I dreamt about standing and arguing with the doctors and nursing staff.  All to soon the  clock was going off at 6.15am.  It's been a long long day.

Thankfully my e-mail paid off, Yeah! Doctors have visited.  Decisions have been made and at 6,30pm this evening my children got the surprise of the night as whilst having their tea my princess caught sight of her beloved grandad walking past the front window.  Needless to say it was hugs and kisses all round with everyone wearing a smile for the first time in weeks.

It's just a shame that such drastic measures had to be taken and not one but two complaints have had to made just to get a satisfactory level of care.  There is something seriously wrong with the NHS and my faith in it at the moment is at rock bottom.  You hear in the media all the time about over spending and bed shortages, yet they have someone essentially fit and well, and although needing treatment not necessarily needing to be in a hospital environment, that has been taking up a bed for almost 3 weeks.

This unfortunately is just the beginning of the journey but at least for tonight I can go to bed still wearing the smile on my face.  Needless to say I am in no doubt that I will sleep like a baby. 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Thank God This Week is Over!

This week has to go down in history as probably one of the worst weeks ever.  Thank God it'sSunday night and it's almost over.  Next week can only get better.  I think I will have an early night and wake up tomorrow at the start of a new week, with hopefully some good news on the horizon.

My dad is still in the hospital and we've seen numerous doctors, who have all provided different diagnosis's and different explanations. We do finally have progress and numerous tests have confirmed the problem.  Only problem is we now have to have further tests to determine the right type of treatment.  With any luck there should be some news tomorrow and hopefully, fingers crossed, he will be back home where he belongs very soon.  Its been a long and very tough couple of weeks.

On top of all that I am now back to being single.  Me and my man have called it a day.  Actually to tell the truth, he dumped me on Friday night via a text of all things.  Perfect timing!  Not one to wallow and feel sorry for myself I'm gonna dust myself down and pick myself right back up again.  This relationship has felt doomed from the start and it's not the first time we have split in our rather rocky 8 months together.  This time it's for good.  I need to put the kids first and I've always prided myself on providing them with a stable homelife.  They don't need someone that is there one week and gone the next.

There is a very big positive side to being single at the moment and that is all the time I will have to spend on my writing.  I have so many projects that I've wanted to tackle and just not had the chance.  It's time to get stuck in and start seeing the items been ticked off my to do list. Watch this space because you'll be hearing a lot more from me.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Crazy Times

I have to confess that my blog is suffering at the moment due to there literally just not being enough hours in the day.  When I have had the chance to be honest I just haven't known what to sit and write about.  This is just a quick post tonight to let you know I'm still around and will be back up to full speed fairly soon.

I have so much going on at the morning what with my dad still being in the hospital, yep he's been stuck in that awful place for two weeks now and if he's not released soon I think we may have to smuggle him out.  It's worse than being in prison.  The harsh thing is he doesn't feel unwell in himself but due to medicatation he is being given he's not allowed home either.   Arghhh!!! The kids are missing him dreadfully but are not allowed onto the ward to visit.  Tonight, he made his escape for ten minutes and the kids met him outside which cheered everyone up no end.  There was hugs and kisses galore.

It's been my first week back at work this week after almost two weeks off and it's been a shock to the system having to set alarm clocks and get up and organised in a morning.  The only good thing is at least the mornings are lighter which makes it very slightly easier to drag myself out of bed.

It's off to bed for me now what with my alarm set for 6.15am I need my beauty sleep.  Night all x

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Wellies, Easter Eggs and Hospital Visiting.

Well, this Easter has definitely been eventful.  There's certainly never a dull moment.  My dad has been in the hospital all over the bank holiday with a dodgy knee.  He certainly knows how to pick his moments.  He usually picks Christmas to be ill but this time he's hit both Christmas and Easter. Just wondering what he's going to do for his hat trick.

I have to have a moan about the NHS here.   The ward he is on is certainly not the best he's stayed on.  He saw a doctor today for the first time since Thursday.  I didn't realise that hospitals failed to function during the bank holidays.  My dad does have an incurable condition which is treatable with the correct drugs.  However, after  days of waiting for results he's had no treatment to speak of and we still don't know what the problem is despite being told that we would have the results back from the initial tests within the hour, here we are 5 days later and none the wiser. They say there is a shortage of hospital beds yet there's my dad taking up a hospital bed for no other reason then a swollen knee.  Apart from that he is fighting fit. Something his seriously wrong somewhere.

Rant over and on a lighter note our wellies have certainly been put to good use this weekend.  Firstly there was a visit to the farm.  They certainly came in handy with all the muddy puddles dotted around. It was a glorious sunshiny spring day and the kids had a great time feeding the animals and building dens in the woodlands.  It was so nice to just be out in the fresh air and feel the sun on the back of your neck.

The sun was was short lived.  On Easter Sunday we visited the seaside town of Filey on the East Yorkshire coast and the kids were having a great time on the bouncy castle in the snow. We left home with blue skies and sunshine and arrived to grey, murky clouds and bitter winds. It was absolutely freezing and I couldn't wait to just get home and defrost. 

I would say I couldn't wait to get home and tuck into my Easter eggs but I have to confess despite having two waiting for me I'm not in a chocolate eating mood and I haven't opened any.  I'm sure they won't last to much longer.