May Vlog 2014

It is that time of the month again when you are forced to watch me waffle at you, this month is a little longer which I hope you won’t mind.  I am not sure if you will see it as me waffling on or just having more to say but we shall see.

Also I shall have more exciting news to share over the next few days although if you are on my FB page you will already know about it but I shall tell more tomorrow.

Busy Week

Hello again, well as expected last week was rather hectic and being half term this week it is not much more settled.  I have filmed most of the Vlog and now need to edit it, as well as all the other bits of footage I intend fitting into it.  In between all the celebrating I have been trying to fit in some writing still which is in part the reason for being so quiet here, just not enough hours in the day.

For those of you who follow me on other media I know you will have seen this picture but for the rest of you this was taken on Sunday out for a family meal…

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We are actually going back to the restaurant I took Lee to for a meal in a couple of weeks for my daughters birthday as she has not been there yet so fingers crossed she likes it.IMG00407-20140516-1732

 

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Apologies for blurriness taken on phone rather than camera

We will lay it safe probably with the starters by ordering the anti-pasta platter and the warm starter platter so everyone can dig in and try different things. I love this sort of starter, even though sometimes I see things on the menu I would really want to try because it encourages the best thing about eating out together and that is the conversation as people pick things up and try them, I believe sharing is a huge part of food.

I will add lots more photo’s into the Vlog and on the monthly round up at the end of the month but if you want to see more birthday pictures from both Lee and monsters celebrations pop over to my FB page where I have shared the album.

Hello

*Runs in and waves vigorously*

Just a quick hello to let you all know I am still around and have not fallen off the edge of the universe.  The truth is the sun is shining and I have been making the most of it.  Those of you who follow me on Twitter or who would like to now follow me on Instagram by clicking the link in the side bar will have seen the assault I made on several rose bushes.  Despite evidence to the contrary (bruises and scratches) I did actually win and shall shortly be beginning round two where I take on the brambles at the bottom of the back garden and discover what is in there that makes the dog smell so bad every time he crawls underneath them.

I also have two birthdays this week, tomorrow sees the monster turn six and Friday is the other half’s birthday although as you will also have seen if you follow me on either of those two media we went out for a meal to celebrate his birthday last Friday while Monster was at his big sisters.

I am running off again now to enjoy more of the sun, hang yet more washing out and do the school run before coming home doing tea and more house work, such an exciting life I lead lol.

Take care every one and I shall be back in a day or two when the dust and cake settles.

Glossybox Monthly Review – April 2014

Okay I am afraid I am going to have to do this more or less with no photos this month as I cannot find them on my computer.  I took lots of photos and uploaded them but I must have deleted them along with last months photos or they must have been deleted on the day the computer decided to wipe a full story as well.

The first item I received was…

Emite Make Up Lip Brush – L312

I put my hands up I would never have paid the full price of £17 for a lip brush but I love this it is by far my favourite item I received this month.  It also was fate as I lost my other lip brush only a few weeks before I could do with a new small blending eyeshadow brush so maybe if I lose that next…

My next product was…

MONU Spa Warming Ginger Massage & Body Oil

This is one of these products that can be used in one of two ways, either as massage oil or you can put it in your bath.  I have to be honest I was not keen on it in the bath and although it feels lovely as massage oil I was not overly keen on the ginger smell, will I be paying £25 for a full size 200ml bottle, erm nope.

Next up…

MeMeMe Cosmetics Beat the Blues – Pearl Pink

I have the same issue with this that I had with the previous MeMeMe product I received a few boxes ago which is that as the product is so runny, literally like water, that for older skin it is just not very complimentary, however, like the previous product my daughter loved it.  This is aimed at being a highlighter, for eyes and cheeks and costs £5.50 for 12ml which it goes without saying I will not be buying.

Next…

Vichy Liftactiv Advanced Filler

They provided two samples one for the face in general excluding the eyes and the other specifically for the eyes. I have to be honest I like the eye one but the other really did not agree with my skin, I tried it a couple of times to be sure of the cause and effect but I found that each time I did I ended up with spots on my forehead in areas which I am not prone to spots, as soon as I stopped using it they cleared up again.  The full size of 30ml costs £31 and I have to say I have tried lots of other products that I much prefer for the price.

And finally…

TRESemme Instant Refresh Cleansing Dry Shampoo

I have used various brands of dry shampoo, especially following my surgeries when I was not allowed to bath because of needing to keep the wound dry and I have to say of all those I have used this is the best.  Although the smell is not great at least with this one you do not end up looking like someone has tipped talcum powder over your head.  It also is great for adding volume to hair if it is a little lank and greasy. I have now managed to lose my list with the price on but it was only a few pounds and I will probably buy another once this is gone just to keep in just incase.

Okay I promise next month I will not lose the photos lol

 

Udolpho & Media

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I have not really read enough this week to actually write another post but instead I decided to do a YouTube search and see what the title brought up, I thought I would be a fun way of seeing how my views relate to others out there.

The first thing I found was this reading, now I have not yet reached this actual passage but it is very reflective of my of the description of journeys…

The language is not too bad when read to you but on the page can be very wearisome.  I must say though the reader has a lovely voice I fear if he read the whole book to me I would struggle to stay awake.

Next up a very brief review of the book as well as a general overview of Ann Radcliffe as an author, I confess I did rewind to check if we were reading the same book because the one she was reading seems much more exciting than mine, so I am guessing it all kicks off in the second half…

And finally my favourite thing I found was this music inspired by the story, I might try listening to it as I read maybe it would help…

Normal posts resume tomorrow fingers crossed or as soon as I write them hope you enjoyed this break fro scheduled programming.

Blog House Keeping

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As I mentioned in a previous blog one of the tasks I have set for myself is to go through the blog and tidy up a few things, mainly missing items and half finished lists.

This will be an ongoing process, I know there are a few posts that I should go back and edit, correct a few typos and in some cases add punctuation to allow readers to breathe while reading.  This will of course be long process, therefore I think that I may very well do a post such as this at the start of each month to allow anyone interested to catch up on the changes and updates.

The most obvious updates for this month are the addition of the monthly round ups for February, March, April.  The addition of the full length An old Friend Revisited and the completion of this years A to Z list.

I also want to pull together all the poetry and flash fictions to see what I have and possibly work on some of the requests for more I have had for some stories.  In some ways I realise that I am useless at flash fiction in that the stories are very rarely self contained and complete judging by how many people request I add more to them but I do find them really good as testers for story ideas and a couple have already been worked on and expanded as part of Voices.

I am also in the process of sorting out my desk and the huge stack of notebooks that live there.  I have a horrible tendency to start a notebook scribble in it for a few pages then get a new one and write in that but I am now trying to ensure that every collection or stand alone book has its own notebook for research, notes etc.

Right I shall now go carry on with the organising and writing.

Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe – Part Six Review Volume 2 Chapters III

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Yes guess what I have dug out again in a determined effort to get this book finished and done with, I could have murdered out heroine myself and been done with it quicker so I have changed to way I am doing these posts so that I sit each day and do a few pages making notes then writing it up at the end of the week. Just the one chapter this week as it is rather a long one.

So we pick up when our heroine has just arrived in Venice with her Aunt and her aunts newly acquired husband.

From the very first moment they arrive in Venice is becomes clear that Montoni has no intention of being an attentive husband or host, Emily and her Aunt are abandoned immediately as Montoni and his friend Cavagni head straight off to the gaming tables. We also meet more of his friends and it soon becomes evident not only is Montoni a gambler but that the reports Valencourt had given of his character had validity. It is worth noting at this point the majority of the characters to which we are introduced at this point are male, this could simply be a reflection of society of the time or a deliberate action to ensure Emily makes no real friends or confidants.  When other women are introduced it is more to allow comparisons between their elegance and beauty and the misplaced arrogance and vanity of of Madame Montoni.

There are the glimmers of Venice through description but generally this is brief and far less detailed than those of the countryside, indeed Emily herself confesses her preferment of nature over the man made landscapes.  I did at this point try doing some research to find out if Radcliffe herself had visited Venice but it seems that her knowledge was gained from travel writers and journals published by others as well as by the art produced depicting the great city.  I wonder if this explains part of the reason why we have such magnificent depictions of wild open spaces, bearing in mind there are plenty of locations in the UK such as the moors that could inspire that feeling of the wonders of nature, opposed to the specifics of a certain location.

We also see the introduction of one character Count Morano which at this point intrigues and confuses me.  Other than the fact he is Montoni’s friend there seems to be nothing too bad about him, he seems attentive and generous and goes out of his way attempting to impress Emily.  What confuses me is at this point she is described as physically shrinking from him yet there has been nothing to explain why she should feel this way.  I can understand given her feelings for Valencourt she would not wish to encourage him but he has not tried to physically impose himself or acted in any way which should illicit this response neither is their any mention of her having any sort of presentiments any sort of feeling towards him, no mention of him giving her the creeps or anything else rather it just seems like Emily is being a bit of a drama queen.

Montoni having been conned into believing he had married wealth and now knowing the truth makes no effort to hide his contempt for his wife, who cannot see she has brought it on herself.  Emily pities her Aunt but personally I might like her better if she gloated just a little given her Aunts part in aiding Montoni is separating her from Valencourt, from whom Emily receives a letter.

First it surprises me that her correspondence would not be monitored and that she managed to receive the letter but secondly it is interesting to note the way the letter was written.  Rather than one single letter, it takes the form of a correspondence stretching over several days, I remember writing that way to my grandparents as a child when it was considered too extravagant to call up just to talk so we wrote letters which we posted every couple of weeks, and as life is pretty boring when you are a child going to school it would take a week or so to come up with enough things to say to fill the notelets.  I actually have a couple of them that my Grandma found and returned to me and it is amusing the nonsense one comes out with to fill the page at that age, but I have to also say how much that jars with modern technology where every thought can be sent instantly and one cannot but wonder how it would effect the plots of some of these classic stories by adding technology although as has been seen with the latest Sherlock Holmes incarnation it can add extra elements.

Yet again we find ourselves having to read through another couple of pages of poetry, and I have to say I think part of my problem with the constant inclusion of poetry is that this is not the type of poetry I personally enjoy, it is overly romantic bordering on pretentious and if I had a time machine I would travel back and slap Wordsworth and all his friends stupid.

We then have a meeting between Montoni and Emily, we as the reader begin to suspect that they are talking at cross purposes, and within a couple of pages we are proved correct and now Emily really has reason to avoid Morano.  While she believes she is discussing her property being rented out, Montoni is referring to conversations he had held with her uncle on the subject of marrying her off to Count Morano.  Obviously one can imagine the benefits Montoni can see to the match for his own gain, and he cannot understand how Emily cannot accept the match.  It is interesting as the confusion is discovered and tempers flare that it is Morano who feels he must defend Emily from Montoni and I do feel a little that she does not actually give him the credit for this and only presses against him for his continued declaration of his affections.  She could have easily spared him by confession that though her expectations were none her heart was engaged elsewhere, one cannot imagine that a man who seems as honourable as he comes across would have pursued her had she been honest with him.

The pace has begun to pick up a little this chapter and we can begin to see the darkness creeping in.  It is still very slow in comparison to modern books and plots and is far from being a page turner but at least one can start to see some development.  I think it is hard when you really have very little empathy for the heroine and half the time would quite like to give her a good talking to.

Book Review – Remains of the Day By Kazuo Ishiguro

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Sometimes you come to a book with lots of prior expectations, this can be because you know the writer but more frequently these days it is because you have watched the film first, for me this was one such book.

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It is almost impossible to review the book separate to the film in my eyes so I will probably refer to both, it is actually very easy to do as the film is fairly faithful to the book as adaptations go.

I think the best way to begin is to start with a clip because this will demonstrate a very important aspect of viewing before reading.

For me when reading the book it was impossible to hear Steven’s voice in any other tones than those of Anthony Hopkins, I find if I read a book first although I may visualise a character in my mind it is easier to adapt those thoughts than it is to remove an image placed there by watching a film first.  While in this case Hopkins plays the character perfectly and with such skill this is not an issue, I have found that it is not always the case and can make put me off reading a book if I have not enjoyed the film.

As previously mentioned Hopkins does play the main character Steven’s incredibly well and brings to life the complex character which can be found within the pages of the book.  I have to confess my ignorance when I first watched the film to the nationality of the writer, and my surprise at learning the author was Japanese.  Yet in many ways it is not surprising that it sound be an ‘outsider’ who is best suited to look with an impartial eye at not only the class system but also what that meant in terms of loyalty, the suppression of personal opinion and the subservience to another without question.  Many Eastern cultures have those same elements explicit within their own histories and it is not surprising comparisons can be drawn between what on first viewing may appear to be completely different backgrounds.  Steven’s is an intelligent man, his choice therefore to remain loyal to his master despite the fact in his heart and mind he could see the failings is something which many of us today could not imagine adhering to.  But the Remains of the Day is not simply the story of a butler and his master, it is much much more.

This book is a commentary on social class at a time when the world was changing, it is about relationships, not just the romantic thread which tenuously links Stevens and Miss Kenton but about the relationships between, master and servant, father and son, friends, and colleagues. It is a story which discusses the implications of placing trust and faith in others judgement, especially when it comes to the world in general, to the changes where once gentlemen resolved issues over dinner rather than professional politicians.  This last point is shown in the next clip…

And one does find oneself questioning afterwards whether those amateurs could have resolved things differently to the professionals, I do not suggest for one minute that the events discussed in this book and film in regards to the second world war were correct nor that there could have been a different outcome, rather it is a simple observation that since that war not a day passes around the world where one of those ‘professionals’ is not involved in a war somewhere.

Possibly the problem is simply there are no longer enough ‘gentlemen’ left in the world to make a difference, possibly there were never enough and that is how we ended up where we are.

This is a book that does make you ask questions, and they are not comfortable ones, nether are they questions upon which you can ever really settle upon a firm one size fits all answer.

It is interesting to hear a little from the author himself…

I think it is his point regarding the complicity in lies which is really at the centre of this book, the lies we tell to others, the lies we tell to ourselves, the truths we deny for a better nights sleep.

I give this book 5 out of 5 and highly recommend reading it, it is slow paced compared to a lot of books but I think this is erfect for a book which fires up so many questions which require careful consideration.

Randomness and other Nonsense.

Hello there, today I thought I would just fit in a quick catch up post before hopefully getting back on track with everything tomorrow (or maybe Tuesday as it is a Bank Holiday here tomorrow).  If you look in the sidebar under the link for my photo blog you can see a new widget thing, this one links to the app I am using to calorie count and now I have fixed the reliable scales I shall update my weight loss weekly so you can all keep track (if you are interested of course).

The belly dancing is going great and I am really enjoying it, I am still not posting a picture or video of me doing it but I have found this… this is my lovely teacher Debra, front right with the red belt, my gorgeous hairdresser Nikki (front centre) who persuaded me to give it a go and they are performing the dance I am actually learning at the minute so you never know one day you might get to see me perform it if you are really really unlucky.

I recently reconciled with the Other Half (also known as monsters dad) and so I am trying to find the balance once more where every aspect of my life is balanced, as I sit writing now they are out at his grandma’s and I will shortly go stick Sunday dinner in the oven, finding a balance is hard especially on weekends but possible I think I just need to actually use all these Apps I have on the computer to manage time more effectively, as I type the clock allotting thirty minutes to write this post is ticking down and I realise that was because I spent ten minutes on You-tube finding the video clip above.

Deciding to take a chance on a relationship or on a job for that matter is difficult, we all know all the things that can go wrong, we have been there, bought T-shirts and in some cases outfitted an entire wardrobe but it is always better to try than spend your life wondering what if.

I will be updating some aspects of the blog in the coming weeks, filling in missing round up pages etc, so please bear with me and also please check out the caption competition on my FB page, I think the majority of the votes were for an Amazon gift voucher as a prize so go check it out all you have to do is answer in the comments and give this picture I took a caption or a title..

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Flash Fiction Friday 135: Empty by Paula Acton

A couple of weeks ago I posted raw unedited flash fiction as part of the A to Z challenge, I have been honoured that Morgen Bailey felt the final edited piece worthy of a feature on her blog so please feel free to pop over and take a peek

MorgEn Bailey - Editor, Comp Columnist/Judge, Writing Guru

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the one hundred and thirty-fifth piece in this series. This week’s is a 500-worder by Paula Acton. This story will be podcasted in episode 41 (with three other stories and some 6-worders) on Sunday 29th June.

Empty

She stood in the centre of the room. Devoid of furniture, it seemed cavernous, a stark contrast against the constriction of her stomach as reality set in.

The past few weeks had passed in a whirlwind. No, that wasn’t right; it had been a tornado, destructive, terrifying. It had left her stranded in a desolate no man’s land.

greece 850303Three months before, she’d been blissfully unaware of what lay ahead, leafing through holiday brochures, debating the perfect location for the break they both needed.  Their careers were taking off, long hours spent at the office leading to quality time rather than quantity, or so she’d believed.

When they’d…

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