Tag Archives: Books

Housework and a bit of Unique Interior Design

Housework and a bit of Unique Interior Design

(Sorry for swearing, ‘Housework’ is not always a word that people take kindly to)

I pride myself on my housekeeping and interior design skills.  I’m ace at it.  In fact, I’m so good at it, I  feel I should share my expertise with you…..so you too can be as accomplished as I am.

Tip Number 1:

I recommend keeping a fully stocked bookcase next to the bathroom.  That way you'll never be short of something to read, even if that does mean the ocassional dash with your pants around your ankles.

I recommend keeping a fully stocked bookcase next to the bathroom. That way you’ll never be short of something to read, even if that does mean the occasional foray onto the landing with your jeans around your ankles.

This is a great interior design idea because it also means that you have to walk slightly sideways at the top of the stairs in order to pass the bookcase without knocking books onto the floor, causing a ‘Bookalanche.’  Bookalanches should be avoided, especially if they involve large hardback slippery books.  Small paperbacks are not as dangerous, although are still to be treated with caution.  Either type can cause you to fall head first down lots of stairs.  *Slippery-slip…Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy ….’OW!’*

Tip Number 2:

This is my jewellery box, I like to keep everything together in one place so I know exactly where to find things.  No separate drawers or boxes here!

This is my jewellery box, I like to keep everything together in one place so I know exactly where to find things. No separate drawers or boxes here!

‘Everything in it’s place!’ as my grandma used to say.  Well, this is the place I keep my jewellery.  I can instantly find whatever I want to wear which is really good. Then again, I can very rarely disentangle whatever it is I want to wear, so perhaps this isn’t actually all that good after all.  Hmm….  Dear potential burglars, this is all worth about £2 and is mostly home-made and charity shop fodder.  Just sayin’

Some of my beads and bracelets have ended up on the floor, not because I’ve put them there though.  They just like it there I think.  As long as I use the vacuum cleaner carefully and don’t disturb them it’s all fine.

Tip Number 3:

Cardboard boxes with old consoles in make wonderful mountain climbing ranges for cats.  Kitties love sitting on very fragile 15 year old consoles.

Cardboard boxes with old consoles in make wonderful mountain climbing ranges for cats. Kitties love sitting on very fragile 15 year old consoles.  They particularly love clawing boxes that have been lovingly preserved by anally retentive husbands who think that they’ll ‘be worth a fortune one day.’

Most people look on cardboard boxes as temporary things, the sort of thing you use when you move house and then chuck out afterwards.  Not us!  My mum used to be a school dinner lady, so we have inherited frozen chip boxes which are mega strong and useful.  My sister used to work in a factory that made biscuits and cakes, so we probably have a few labelled ‘Cake’ too.  These boxes are good and strong and will last for years, so why shouldn’t we have at least 5 of them in our bedroom?  When the ceiling lights aren’t on at night, and we can’t see very well, they’re fabulous for falling over.  Now that’s practical interior design for you!  Don’t throw away boxes!  Just work around them. Like forever.

Tip Number 4:

Keep clutter to a maximum.

Keep clutter to a maximum.

You’ve heard the phrase ‘Tidy house, tidy mind!’   Well, I can go one better.  ‘Cluttered house, cluttered-interesting-but-full-of-really-rather-random things…mind!’  That’d be my house/me.  Oh and dusting is pointless, if you dust it just all floats up into the air and then settles again.  Besides, I like writing in it.

Tip Number 5:

You don't need paint or wallpaper if you just cover a wall with shelves full of stuff.

You don’t need paint or wallpaper if you just cover a wall with shelves full of stuff

We like playing Tetris with things, you should try it.  Really.  Just wear proper shoes if you have a full on game because when stuff falls off the shelf it tends to be heavy and hurt your toes if you’re not wearing shoes.  I know this from experience.

Tip Number 6:

IMG_0096

Pile things on your kitchen sides, lots of things, of different shapes and sizes. Just because you can.

Beware of piling things on top of the microwave though, I was once told that it can cause it to blow up.  This interior design style, otherwise known as ‘teetering’ is perfect for really narrow kitchens.  It stops our cat jumping on the sides too, because there are no sides to jump on to.  Clever eh!

We are interior design geniussess, I’m sure you’ll agree.

(This is a sponsored post and this is actually my home.  If there is such an organisation as the ‘House Police,’ I think we may be arrested shortly.)

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Po-Tolo

Po-Tolo, Plan Bee From Outer Space – written and illustrated by Olly Oliver

Po-Tolo immediately translates in my head to ‘PotHole’ which is a bit of a strange name for a character I thought.  The front cover features shiny, metallic looking, cartoon like creatures that don’t particularly attract me if I’m being truthful.  This is personal taste though, I just naturally gravitate towards natural looking illustrations.  These are all strange looking creatures with huge bug eyes.   Definitely eye catching, if not eye popping.  The kids liked the look of it though, especially Sausage.

Right, I’ll attempt to summarise the plot for you.  Po-Tolo comes to earth from another planet in a spaceship called Nommo, he is looking for help because his world has lost all its bees and their planet is dying.  He meets a bee called Izzy and a purple octopus called Lop and asks if they can encourage any of their bee friends to come back to his planet to help save it. Then it all goes a bit wierd….Po-Tolo gets stung by a wasp which punctures his spacesuit.  Izzy flies off to find a puncture repair kit and Lop then re-inflates Po-Tolo’s spacesuit by huffing and puffing.

After this crisis is averted Izzi tells Po-Tolo that the queen bee has given her permission for ‘two legions’ of earth’s bees to go back with him.  Lop oversees the bog-eyed bumblebees as they load onto the spaceship, and Po-Tolo has a ‘bumblecuddle’ with Izzy.  ‘Plan Bee’ is therefore a sucess, and Po-Tolo goes home and the bees aid the planet’s recovery.

All in all, it’s a rather confusing plot which doesn’t quite make sense to me.  But there’s plenty of chances to make silly noises, ie. bees going ‘Bzzzzzz’ and spaceships going ‘Wob, Wob, Wob’ and a huge ‘AATCHOO!’ from Izzy who inexpicably has hayfever.  You can beat silly noises in kids books!

‘Po-Tolo’ is not a bad read, but I wouldn’t say it’s a great one.   The kids quite liked it, but not much more than that, and if I’m being honest I’m not keen.  This surprised me, I love bees and I think it’s an important message to get across to children.  The world does need bees!  But where purple octopi, bees with hayfever and the importance of puncture repair kits come into the message – I haven’t a clue!

If you think this is more your kind of thing than ours, you can find a copy here for £6.99 on the Top That Publishing website.  They very kindly sent me a copy to review, no other financial reward was given.

A Bulging Bookcase

A Bulging Bookcase

I love reading, always have done.  By the age of 5 I’d read ‘101 Dalmations’ by Dodie Smith – and that’s not the Disney version either.  They are windows into different worlds and I find them fascinating.   Some authors absolutely astonish me with their use of words and language.  Don’t you think it’s amazing that simple shapes and symbols arranged in a certain way on a blank sheet of paper can create whole lives and worlds, with all the heartbreak, ups and downs and twiddly bits in-between?

I’ve just this minute finished reading ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes (this isn’t a book review by the way).  This evening marks the end of the Easter hols, and the house is falling in pieces around my ears.  Paperwork litters the spare room, washing up needs doing, there’s toys on the floor, the effing bathroom needs cleaning again – but I have done none of it.  ‘Manyana, manyana!’ or whatever the phrase is.  I’ll sort it all tomorrow when the kids are in school and nursery.  Instead of doing all these things I decided to enjoy the last fleeting moments of official ‘time off’ and there’s nothing better than a good read.   I curled up on our huge purple corderoeuy sofa, dragged our rainbow striped fleecey blanket over myself, got a cup of tea and lost myself in the final chapters of the above book.

I lost myself so completely that I couldn’t bear to put the book down, the last chapter had me sobbing my heart out, the tears falling down my cheeks and plopping onto the book.  (I shan’t tell you why in case you decide to read this book yourself).  I’ve laughed and cried at this story, felt the frustrations of the characters and have painted pictures in my head of the places they went to.   To reach the last page was like having to say goodbye to friends I had only just made.

Who needs films when you can see everything so completely in a book?   I’m afraid I’m rather snooty about 3D TV, in a book you get 4D – the characters thoughts are known, their insights and observations, the scenes are drawn out with adjectives and sentences that lead you through places and situations that you couldn’t possibly begin to understand simply through what you ‘see’ in moving pictures.  Give me a good book instead any day!

Our bookcase at the top of the stairs is bulging, there are two layers of books on many of the shelves – some of which stick out and fall off if you brush against them.   I’ve read many of them, but not all.  One day I’ll hopefully read them all, at least I hope so.  Freecycle has been my downfall, I once replied to someone who said they had some books going spare.  We ended up with two carrier bags full of science fiction and fantasy books in various states of disrepair.  Probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but I look at each one as a world waiting to be discovered.  My kids look at them as ammunition for throwing at doors when one or the other has shut them out of the bathroom or their bedrooms.  I’m always so narked when I hear a loud ‘THUNK’ and a yell as Sausage chucks them at his sister’s door.   One day my son will learn that books are more than just ammunition I hope.

Darlek has begun to see a little of what I see in books.  She loves her bedtime stories and I’m finding them a pleasure to read – now that she’s moved on to literature that is a little more interesting than ‘What noise does a cow make?’ kind of books.  We’re currently reading ‘The Valley of Adventure’ by Enid Blyton, and for all her faults Enid did know how to tap into a child’s imagination.  They are a tad twee and are dated in some ways, but as I read them over as an adult, I can still feel some of the childlike excitement I used to as the adventures unfold.  Kiki the parrot still cracks me up.  That’s probably a claim to shame to be honest! Ah well, we can’t all be blessed with a mature sense of humour.

As the years go by, I’ll probably end up annoyed with Darlek nicking my make-up and my clothes (if she’s incredibly un-trendy that is), but I’ll be ever so pleased if she nicks my books.  They give you such amazing insights into places and people real and imaginary.  I can’t wait for her to read the Lord of the Rings (maybe she’ll love it, maybe she’ll hate it….) so we can exchange shivers at the thought of the Ringwraiths chasing Frodo in the flight from Rivendell.

Oh books!  Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day!  (well, apart from Stephen King and maybe Irvine Welsh, that would just be daft – I don’t tend to read scary or disturbing books, they either scare the crap out of me or haunt my thoughts at Silly O’Clock in the morning).

I have no excuse for not going to bed now, or at least tidying the kitchen.  So there are many reasons why I am sad that the book ended.  Might have to find another one now or face the washing up.  *Kay desperately scours the overstuffed bookcase*

Cosy Musings From a Caravan

Cosy Musings From A Caravan.

My netbook is out of batteries so this is being written in green biro on a scratty A4 pad I found in a cupboard.

We are in Settle in Horace’s gran’s caravan, we’re just here for a couple of days holiday over the Easter period.

The rain is hammering on the roof in waves and the wind occasionally wobbles the caravan very slightly, but it’s so snug in here, I’d rather be here than anywhere else in the world right now.  It’s as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist out there.

I love being away from home.  It’s not that I hate my own four walls, but it’s what they stand for, the worries, the bills, the housework, the crumbs on the carpet.  Here all I have to worry about, right now, is how do I raise my snoring other half from the sofa so I can check I’ve switched off the gas fire properly – a skill I’ve never quite mastered.

The time is 11.30ish, the gas fire is blasting out a lovely glowing, bright orange heat, the kids are tucked up in the other room beneath duvets and sleeping bags with hot water bottles and teddies.

I have a glass of wine nestled in my left hand, the remains of a chocolate cheesecake sat on the table, and calm and quiet.  If you discount the loudly snoring husband.  There’s washing up in the sink, but I don’t have to do it  There’s a pile of books beside me I could dip into if I wanted to. Perfection!

We’ve spent so many good times here, I can’t think of anything remotely negative connected with this place.  You know when you’re a kid and you build dens made of sticks, old carpet and maybe an old door or something, and it just feels special somehow – like your very own space?  Well, this is the grown up version.

I keep remembering the times we’ve spent here in the past.  Not wistful exactly, just in amazement.  Darlek is 7 now, but I can still remember when we came here and she was just three months old!  It was April and it snowed, it was so cold!  We were in the new parent paranoia stage and had a baby monitor that registered the temperature in the bedroom where she lay in her moses basket.  It dropped to about 8 degrees and I thought poor Darlek would freeze to death.  The bed is quite small in there and I remember picking her up and tucking her in with me, my arm carefully encircling her so she wouldn’t fall out of bed and so that I wouldn’t lie on her.  I was so unbelievably uncomfortable I don’t think I slept a wink that night, but at least I knew she was warm and safe.

THUD! – Sausage just fell out of bed, poor love.  I just found him in a heap in the gap between the beds, his little head poking up under a pile of duvet that slid off the bed with him.  He’s safely tucked up back in bed now at least. 

Funny memories too of coming here when Horace and I were just getting together.  We used to come up here as a gang of us, usually ending up rather erm…drunk at some point or other.  We were always very considerate to the neighbours though and tried to keep the noise down, but nonetheless stayed up late into the night talking and having a laugh.

It was always of the utmost importance that we kept the caravan in mint condition for obvious reasons.  Horace’s gran wouldn’t want a load of yobs wrecking her pride and joy.  I suppose now I can admit to the time when my friend over did it a little and threw up on the cream carpet.  Most of us were a little too far gone to clean up properly, but thankfully one of us was still with it enough to sit on his hands and knees at about 2am with a bowl, a cloth, some disinfectant and a strong stomach and sort it all out.  That wasn’t me by the way, I was probably sat there giggling at the patterns on the sofa at the time.  Oh how times have changed!

We’re not here with a horde of us now, it’s all very respectable.  Two kids in bed, Horace kaffled on the sofa, quiet apart from the gentle hiss of the gas fire.  I miss those times a little I suppose, but if I was still doing that at 36 years old, I think I’d be thoroughly bored of it by now.  Besides I like a good night’s sleep and I hate hangovers.

This evening we all sat and watched ‘The Time Machine’, the old classic movie made in about 1960 or something.  It’s made me think a little.  Would I like to go back to those times, they were fun – the cosy early parenthood days, the mucking about, raucous days.  I suppose as a time tourist I would.  I’d not be tempted to linger too long though or the rose-tinted spectacles might wear off.  The memories of those times are probably more fun than they actually were when I lived through them.

But….if I had a time machine, I’d definitely be tempted to try to freeze time right now, this very minute.  While my glass is still half full, while Horace lies sprawled under his fleecy blanket on the sofa, soon to wake; with the kids curled up fast asleep dreaming of school, or the Faraway Tree or Lego Batman….and me sat here with my scrawly handwriting on an A4 pad with a slight cramp from writing so fast.

(Horace’s gran reads this blog occasionally, just to say ‘I’m very sorry about the carpet, we cleaned it up very, very, very, very well promise – please don’t cross me off the Christmas card list.  *looks sheepish*) ;O)

Blogging about Books!

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before or not, but I have a book blog called ‘A Little Bit Bookish’ where I review books, funnily enough!

If you’d like to bob over that way I’ve recently read and reviewed ‘Driving Over Lemons – An Optimist in Andalucia’ by Chris Stewart.

It would make me very happy to see you at my other bloggy home and it would make me even happier if you think you might like to subscribe for further updates? *bats eyelashes in a vain attempt to curry favour*

Anyway!  Just thought I’d drop that into the conversation. ;O)

Click here if you’d like to read the review. A LITTLE BIT BOOKISH!

Armoured Bears & Apple Crumble

Armoured Bears, Bats

and Apple Crumble

This evening I am writing to distract myself from wanting to chew my own arm off.  I am so hungry it is ridiculous.  Honestly, I’m so terribly bored of ricecakes, they get stuck in my teeth and sort of squeak when I bite them.  Raisins are simply too raisiny after too many of them.  I’ve run out of popcorn kernels.  I’ve already eaten an apple a day so that’ll keep the doctor away if not hunger pangs and I’m only just resisting the urge to eat every single one of the Jenny Craig snacks I own in one huge binge.  It’s official.  I am struggling.  You know they say that men think about sex every 30 seconds or something ridiculous like that; well if I let my mind go blank for any period of time at all, I start imagining massive steaming hot bowls of apple crumble smothered in custard.  Anyway, scintillating as my food habits are, I think I should probably move on.

It’s World Book Day tomorrow, and guess who only remembered at 9.45ish this evening?  Me!  Typical last minute panicking.  I tried a Matilda outfit, but she wears a blue dress and we have nothing like that, not even a blue top and a blue skirt.  Then I seriously considered Augustus Gloop for a minute or so, a friend of mine suggested shoving a load of newspaper down some jogger pants and tops and smearing her in brown stuff (gravy granules?) to make her look like she was smothered in chocolate and very overweight.  I just couldn’t do it!  She’d need counselling after that!

I weighed up the pro’s and cons of dressing her in a normal outfit and draping her in pans so she could look like Saucepan Man from the Faraway Tree, but I can imagine her getting rather annoyed with real pans and I couldn’t be arsed to make tons of pretend ones.  Anyway!  I finally found a huge pink faux fur trimmed coat that I’ve been saving for Darlek for years, I  think it’ll fit her now, and I’ve found her Build A Bear teddy bear and covered it in tin foil so it looks like it’s wearing armour (or maybe it just looks like an odd Xmas turkey with ears and four legs).  Can you guess the character yet?

Darlek will be Lyra from the Golden Compass!  It’s a bit of a drawback that I can’t find any compasses in the house, although I know there’s a box of un-crackered crackers in the Xmas box upstairs and I bet there’s a compass amongst them.  It seems a bit OTT and frankly lonely to sit upstairs pulling crackers on my own, even if I am only compass hunting.  So, anyway, she’ll have to make do with her tin-foiled armoured bear.  Darlek had forgotten too, I only remembered after she went to bed, so this has not been discussed with her at all.  No doubt tomorrow morning, she’ll wake up and refuse flatly to wear the outfit and I shall want to scream and tear my hair out.  I tried my hardest!  Not much more I can do than that.

Sausage is going to go to nursery in his Halloween Bat outfit if I can find it tomorrow.  He loves his bat outfit and my very weak connection with a book character is that, there are Batman comics with bats in them. Sausage has never read these comics and is unlikely to for many years; but he has been playing Lego Batman on the Playstation an awful lot recently and really, really loves Batman.  The other day he ran around holding the back of his coat up like a cloak and shouted ‘I’m gonna get you baddies!’ so he’s very into the whole thing.  I have no Batman costume, so I’m going half way there.  A Bat it is!  I’ll try and get a photo to post tomorrow :O)

Next year I shall be more organised, and pigs shall fly in formation over Bradford.

The Day the Gogglynipper Escaped – A Review

The Day the Gogglynipper Escaped

I so wish this was the title of one of my every day blogs.  Oh to have a Gogglynipper and to find out it had escaped!  Life would be so exciting.

But no!  It is the title of a book I have been sent by Top That Publishing to review and it is written by James McKnight and illustrated by Mark Chambers.

I wouldn't want to meet one of these on a dark night!

The story goes that there is a farmer called McDoogle who has a Monster Farm and ‘on that farm he had some Monsters.   Eee I, Eee I, Oh!’ *sings* (sorry there was no way I could stop myself from doing that, that was completely involuntary!)

So….back on topic…… on this farm there is also a little boy called Diggle who helps Farmer McDoogle look after the monsters.  Diggle is the hero of the book who accidentally loses one of the monsters and has to go and find him. He searches high and low and eventually falls in a huge pile of Gogglynipper poo which gives him a clue as to where it is hiding.  It is in a very big dark cave, and as Gogglynippers can be very ‘big’ and also very ‘dramatic’ he is rather scared of going in there to fetch it.

As it happens the Gogglynipper is so pleased to see him that he rushes out and licks him all over like a huge oversized labrador.  Phew!  Diggle is so relieved to find him and begins the journey home with the Gogglynipper in tow.  Unfortunately the Gogglynipper smells some particularly fragrant smelly socks (Gogglynippers love eating smelly socks) and dashes off leaving Diggle chasing after him.  Luckily the smelly socks belong to Farmer McDoogle who is resting with his feet out of the window, and even more luckily he moves them before the Gogglynipper tries to eat them.

The moral of the story is, if you want your Gogglynippers to find  their way home, don’t wash your socks!  A helpful, life affirming kind of message I thought.

Cute funny illustrations, I loved the humour in this book.

Narrative aside, the illustrations are really charming.  They are hand drawn, cartoony and full of character and easy on the eye.  There’s also a fair bit of detail to pick out, and it has a great sense of humour.

My one criticism is that I find it almost impossible to say ‘Gogglynipper’ and ‘Noober’ (the name of the dog).  In fact, and this is hand on heart true, I kept calling them ‘Googlynipples’ and the poor doggy got called ‘Nobber’ a few times.  No I hadn’t been drinking and no it’s not Freudian.

As for my kid’s opinions – they love it.  Good pace of story, cute illustrations, great novelty factor and I’ve had to read it at least 7 times at bedtime, over the last two weeks.  The Day the Gogglynipper Escaped has been one that they’ve asked for specifically so they do enjoy reading it, my son in particular.

If you’d like a copy of this book it is £5.39 reduced from £5.99 and you can find it HERE!