A – Z Challenge 2017 – Theme Reveal

So in the past I have done places, animals, artists and I was hoping to come up with a really cool theme for this year but it just has not happened. You may have noticed there was no vlog or Lazy Sunday this last week, well the truth is our week was thrown into turmoil with the passing of one of our little furries, Buddy age 6 (a good age for a guinea pig) was dead when we got up on Thursday morning and although I hid the fact from Monster until after school there were lots of tears and as you can imagine we have been busy trying to ease his upset, which to be honest is not helped by ,the remaining piggie, making lots of noise in his distress at now being a lone piggie.

Anyhow back on subject A – Z theme, I have been racking my brain this morning but it was not really complying and I kept wondering off on strange trains of thought. The it came to me, that will be my ‘theme’ stream of conciousness! I am going to open the dictionary at random for each letter and and stick my finger on the word and that will be the starting point for that day. I will give the word and the definition first, then from there I shall allow my mind to wander wherever it so desires for 500 – 1000 words.

Now you all know me, so you can’t hold me responsible for any rabbit holes we may journey into, they may be fun and frivolous, or, dark and dangerous. I have no idea how well this will work but I think it will be fun finding out lol

Give Away & Page Take Over

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Join me tonight 9pm UK time as I take over the #Leeds2018 #HourglassEvents page click the link and join in advance http://ow.ly/McOi308JscK

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Four years ago this incredibly brave little man lost his fight against cancer, he left an army of followers all heart broken by his loss and devastated for his family, I wrote Voices Across The Void to honour his memory and to raise awareness and funds for the charity set up in his name Cords4LifeUK, I said Iwould never give this book away free because of that but today and tomorrow to honour him and this family I am with the hope if you like it you will leave a review, spread the word and help make cord donation something offered to all new mums so they may help save a life or at the very least give those precious extra few months cells from a donated cord gave Charlie with his family. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Voices-Across-Void-Pa…/…/B01GZ5NFPU

 

Lazy Sunday #27

We missed last week due to my illness and the next couple of weeks have rather important days falling on the Sunday, so this is the final Lazy Sunday for this year so I decided to share a couple of extra posts today, hope you enjoy them and thank you to all the wonderful bloggers who share the blogosphere with me.

The first couple are very dear friends who both lost loved ones this year and remind us that no one is promised tomorrow and that this time of year the empty chair can be especially painful.

  1. The wonderfully talented Dallas lost her dad this year, she shared the the painful journey of watching a dynamic man lose his battle against diseases which rob you not only of your body but your mind https://crazytraintotinkytown.com/2016/12/01/for-next-year-i-think-ill-just-be-happy/
  2. Another friend lost her mum and her bravery in sharing the grieving process both before and after her mum’s passing is to be applauded, we protect ourselves so much from the parts of life we don’t want to consider that when we are personally struck it breaks us, only by being brave enough to face the darkness can we really appreciate the light, https://veggiewitch.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/grief-is-a-surreal-place/
  3. I don’t want this to be only about grief so I want to share this awesome blog, they do not publish very often but when they do the photos and knowledge they share blow your mind https://sartenada.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/white-trees-arboles-blancos-arbres-blancs-arvores-brancas/
  4. Next up is one of two posts from the same blog but for very different reasons, so first of all because I love the way this lady keeps her sense of humour when so many others would have given in to despair https://jmgoyder.com/2016/11/29/green-juice-adventures/
  5. The second post is one she put up for her son, because we all have dreams but taking the step to make it happen is always the hardest part, https://jmgoyder.com/2016/11/09/ming/
  6. One from one of my favourite places to read poetry, an alternative look at the festive season https://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/christmas-lies-bleeding/

And finally because I believe we should end this one a high something to make you smile

Lazy Sunday #19 & #20 Plus Vlog Time #75

Okay a whole lot today and first up the vlog which will explain why last Sunday everything got turned upside down…

So that being said a couple of bonus blog shares this week as I had actually started the post last week and t had sat in drafts waiting…

  1. I have heard several very similar reviews to this one, and I do think that it is because it is a play and so much of the visual will have been left out, I wish JK had maybe released it as a play and gone a little further and completed it into an actual book, I know there are a couple of short stories to come and I will probably read it, as well as those but the reviews do not have me rushing to it, I hope the play appears on DVD as many people cannot afford or physically travel to the West End even if they could get tickets, but maybe the way to go is read this with friends and act out the parts yourselves for now https://lucywilliamspoetry.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/harry-potter-and-the-cursed-child/
  2. I love this picture, it reminds me of proper Autumn’s where the leaves turned on the trees and fell into crispy, deep carpets you could swish your feet through and throw them in the air, they did not just end up as wet slush in the gutters https://thewearytravelers.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/autumn-mist-germany/
  3. I know it is probably wrong but I really, really want to read this book now https://pbbpb.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/flesh-philip-jose-farmer-1960/
  4. My lovely friend Heidi is revamping one of my favourite series I just really hope she does the print versions as I would love to have them sat on my bookshelves https://hnsieverding.wordpress.com/2016/09/03/time-to-reveal-my-secret-project/
  5. A new blog this week and one I hope will develop, the art work I have seen is bright and vibrant and full of possibilities, I am not sure if it is because of the way language translates but I would love to hear more about what it inspired in the artist rather than the short sentences trying to tell the viewer what to feel and I hope they take that in the spirit with which it is meant, I find art to be such a personal thing and hated being told what it should evoke especially if I saw it different to the other person, I am the person who was not impressed by the Mona Lisa regardless of the number of eye levels and perspectives, but decide for yourselves https://paintdigi.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/my-31st-painted-picture-mon-31e-tableau/
  6. There are times we all struggle to put feelings into words and thankfully there are others who do it a far more eloquently, 18 months ago I wrote the eulogy for my grandma and know just how hard it is to put your thoughts in order to pay tribute to those whose loss robs you of the most, sending love to a dear, dear friend as she begins her journey through life without her hero xxx https://crazytraintotinkytown.com/2016/09/03/to-lose-someone-you-love-is-to-alter-your-life-forever/

Okay confession time I am sat sobbing after reading the last post, I came so close last week to living it myself, we know one day we will bury our parents, it is the way of life, how it should be, but that does not take away the pain. We are always greedy for just one more day. One of the main things we need to remember in life is love for today, don’t leave things unsaid or put things off without real need, no one is promised a tomorrow xxxx

Audio Book Review – The Girl On the Train by Paula Hawkins

This book had been sat on my TBR pile for ages and I confess I had got a little worried it would not live up to the hype, finally I decided to take the plunge but in audio book format…

Running Length; 10 hours and 59 minutes

Narrated by; Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher

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The Goodreads Blurb…

A debut psychological thriller about a woman who becomes emotionally entangled in a murder investigation because of something she witnesses on her daily commute.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and every night. Every day she rattles over the same track junctions, flashes past the same stretch of cozy suburban homes. And every day she stops at the same signal and she sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof deck, living the perfect life that Rachel craves for herself – a lifestyle she recently lost. She looks forward to observing this household every morning, even makes up names and narratives for its residents. Then one day Rachel sees someone new in their garden, and soon after, the woman who lived there disappears.

Unable to keep this information to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and in the process is drawn into the lives of the couple she thought of as Jason and Jess but whose names – she has learned from the news – are really Megan and Scott Hipwell.

But the police accuse Rachel of being unreliable, and it’s true that her memories can’t always be trusted. Plus there are the stories that her ex-husband’s new wife has been spreading about her. By the time Megan’s body is found, Rachel is in over her head, intricately entangled in the details of the investigation, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she put others in danger? Has she done more harm than good?

A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by listeners across markets and categories.

Strangely given all the hype I was surprised when I went to get the blurb how low the rating is for this book but I think I get why and also why as an audio book this might actually blow the written version out of the water.

The story is told from multiple viewpoints, three distinctively different women with three very different views on what is happening within the story, obviously I can only speculate given I did not read the written version but I suspect it can get hard to keep the three separate in your head. The advantage of this audio version is each of the women is narrated by a different actress, and they are all incredibly talented ladies.

The story plays with the idea of memory, not only the unreliable one of Rachel but also the way in which it is selective and allows people to fool themselves into believing their own take on things. In the end though the story is about love, betrayal and heartbreak, though the characters are very different in one way or another they are all self destructive, searching to find fulfilment in the wrong places and irreconcilably bound together by an invisible thread.

Would I recommend this book yes but I would add the proviso that I would recommend this audio book even higher, there is talk of a film but I have to say if they do they need to use this same cast and even then I am not sure it can out do this, a huge 5 out of 5 stars.

Gold star

On this day 100 years ago…

On this day 100 years ago today a battle begun, one which would see thousands killed, and family histories forever changed, including mine.

When I started doing my family tree I began with my mums side, unusual as it is often easier to trace back the family name but my gran was still alive and could help me on that side, but curiosity did get the better of me and I wanted to know why my dad knew nothing of his family, why I could not remember my granddad ever talking about his family, although there was one brother who visited him. My dad was reticent, I think he suspected some terrible dark skeleton hidden in the closet. What I found was a man who went off to fight a war in a country he would never leave and do it for a country that would, at a later date put up signs barring those with his heritage.

In 1877 of Irish immigrant parents, Michael Acton was born in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire. Making his way north through Lancaster he ended up in Castleford, where he met and married my great-grandmother Fanny Wall. Together they had five children, frustratingly I cannot find the document I had with his signing up date so I cannot be sure if he ever saw his youngest child before he left for war.

As a coal miner I think it unlikely he would have been conscripted and I am pretty sure from what I remember of my research at the time he signed up before conscription begun, just another man who wanted to what he believed was the right thing and make the world a better place for his family. Maybe he was naive and believed the home by Christmas posters, maybe he thought by fighting for the country his Irish heritage might be overlooked as he sought to provide for his family we will never know because my granddad was only 7 years old when his dad left to fight for freedom on foreign soil and he would never see him again.

My dad only ever saw one photo of his granddad, a big blonde haired Irish man standing next to a horse and cart in the photo, he had asked his dad who it was only to be told it was his granddad and the matter dropped. No one knows what happened to the photo, my aunt does not recall seeing it and she checked the photos she took from the house when it was cleared and cannot find it, maybe another relative has it, maybe it got lost, tucked inside something thrown away as unimportant. It is the truth that there were not as many photos back then, certainly very few people could afford to have them taken and no one had personal camera’s, I like to think somewhere in other branches of the family they do exist because in some ways there is nothing left other than a few words on census records, and on military records. There is no grave to lay flowers at, and though biologically he lives on through me, my siblings and our children, the name is passed on less and less over time, my son bears his fathers surname and while my daughter does have it eventually she will marry and change it and her children will more than likely not take it forward, from our branch only my brothers sons will carry it forth.

But I digress, so a man sets out, leaves his loved ones behind, I doubt any of them really though of the circumstances they would end up in, if he had left expecting to leave his wife a widow and children fatherless could he have still signed that bit of paper? Maybe he believed they would be looked after, from stories my Aunt remembers that was not always the case, my granddad spoke bitterly of the priest coming round and taking the last penny from the fireplace, I was christened Church of England, it never crossed my mind we would be anything else but piecing together the facts and anecdotes my Aunt knew, we came to a conclusion the Acton’s who came from Ireland, travelled from County Galway to a new life in England were probably Catholic, I confess it came as a bit of a shock and we have no technical proof at the minute but it does make some things fall into place. It is also worth noting the names O’Brien and Connor also feature down that family tree which adds a little more circumstantial weight to that hypothesis.

So what do I know about this man well very little other than these few pieces of information..

1262_00544Dead! A simple four letter word that changed so much, but it get worse because normally when a loved one dies you have a grave, somewhere to lie flowers and acknowledge they lived but not for him. There was no body, no resting place his wife and children could visit instead he is commemorated in a cemetery in France, Thiepval, along with thousands of others who never came home,

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Instead of returning home to his family they received medals in his honour which could never take the place of flesh and blood, Victory medalWW1_1914_Mons_Star_WWI_ob

A name carved in stone that remembers a man his children never had the chance to know, and for what because some men believe they have the right to determine the fate of others, they think they have the right for power and wealth, because they think they are more worthy than their fellow man and hold others live not only as having no worth but in contempt. Even today around the world there will be families mourning loved ones, killed for standing up for what is right, killed for trusting the words of people who do not care if they live or die. There will be others who die for causes they believe in, believe honourable but they too are wrong. No one should ever have to die for a cause, because the only cause we have any business with in this life or the next is peace, love, tolerance and understanding; whatever your belief system you have no right to judge another person no right to act as your own god and pass sentence. We can only hope that the anniversary of one of the worst conflicts in history can remind us what they fought and died for and that many people from different nations stood together united in the hope that they would make the world a better place for us.

Memorial

Book Review – The Innocent Murderer By Michael Griesbach

I should first point out that prior to reading this I had not only watched the Netflix series Making A Murderer but I had also listened to numerous crime podcasts where the case and evidence had been discussed at length by various professionals and that knowledge did impact a little upon my reading of this book.

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The Goodreads Blurb…

The story of one of America’s most notorious wrongful convictions, that of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who spent eighteen years in prison for a crime he did not commit and now the subject of the hit series Making a Murderer. But two years after he was exonerated of that crime and poised to reap millions in his wrongful conviction lawsuit, Steven Avery was arrested for the exceptionally brutal murder of Teresa Halbach, a freelance photographer who had gone missing several days earlier. The “Innocent Man” had turned into a cold blooded killer. Or had he? This is narrative non-fiction at its finest and the perfect companion read for fans of Making a Murderer.

First thing that has to be said is that the author is not a writer, he is a lawyer and occasionally it shows, but that can be forgiven in parts though you cannot help but think that occasionally he could have cut some of the repetition of facts and credit us with being able to retain information or flick back through pages to double check if we need to, I guess it is because he is used to drumming facts into jury’s.

The second thing you should know is that the first three quarters of this book focus on the crime for which Steven Avery was wrongly convicted and his subsequent appeals and exoneration, the last quarter deals with the murder trial and conviction and I have to be honest you might think the two sections had been written by different people.

The first section dealing with the wrongful conviction is full of details, it goes in depth and questions the process which led to this travesty of justice, likewise the author pulls no punches in his own part of this story where he is instrumental in the process of setting Steven Avery free. Disappointingly in the last section he acts the same way as he accuses the documentary of acting and cherry picks the facts he likes to create his version of the story.

Now I am going to say at this point I still cannot say I am sure either way if Steven Avery is guilty of the murder of Teresa Halbach, what I am sure of is the the evidence was not as cut and dried as this would have you believe, nor is the idea of the conspiracy as flimsy as this books would like to believe. I get it, the author cannot allow himself to believe the system would prove to be corrupt twice but given the same players were involved in both cases is that really such a far stretch.

Now the big question of ratings and recommendations, I would suggest reading this as part of a general interest in the case and to learn more about the wrongful conviction, but if you are looking for more information on the murder charge and trial you will not find it here, I also recommend you watch the Netflix documentary before you read this as the author does make the assumption you have seen it. So based on the overall book I am giving it 3 out of 5 stars, I knocked off half for the writing style but the rest for the last quarter which has extreme bias against the documentary which I believe clouded the authors ability to examine the evidence without prejudice. The sad thing is that there are no winners here, if Steven Avery is innocent it means the law is corrupt once more, a guilty man is walking free while an innocent one is locked up and Teresa Halbach’s family will be dragged though hell not knowing the truth. The other side of that coin is that if Steven Avery is guilty with way the investigation took place and the subsequent documentary’s and books will always raise question marks and may even one day see him walk free again on technicalities. I have my own possibly alternative theories on the case, questions that have not been satisfactorily answered, if I have them then so must others and until they are all answered it is hard to see Teresa ever being allowed to truly rest in peace.

 

3 stars

Lazy Sunday #10 & Vlog Time #65 – Strange Camera Effect

It is evening as I get round to this this week so rather than coffee I have a nice cold diet Coke with ice in front of me, it has been quite warm here today. Anyway as it is late I am going to just do four plus the vlog and an appeal on behalf of a friend…

  1. I think at times we all lose our way in the stories we tell, get to a point where we cannot see the wood for the trees, well if you hit the brick wlaa this post may help you identify problem areas, I know some seem obvious but they are usually the ones we over look… https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/5-reasons-your-story-is-stuck/
  2. I love snail mail, I love sending and receiving it but I cannot help but think how much more fun it would be to retrieve my mail from one of these, https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2016/05/03/what-the-mailman-saw-photos/
  3. I don’t write poetry very often, it is something I don’t feel comfortable with and when I do it tends to centre on nature or grief however I love this poem, to be fair I love most of the stuff he posts but this one struck a real cord with me https://chestermaynes.wordpress.com/2016/05/07/i-am-the-transformation-of-things/
  4. The final one is about loss and how we deal with it, how to make sense of it to those left behind, if that is possible https://rarasaur.com/2016/05/12/the-upside-down-tree/

I had intended on posting this Friday night but I got tired, then Saturday between furniture moving and Eurovision I pretty much wore myself out…

This is the trailer for Gareth’s GoFundMe which you can find here

I know most people are not in a position to help but if you can share with anyone who might be able to help him that would be great.

A – Z Challenge 2016, B is for…

Bis for Bell, Vanessa (née Stephen; 30 May 1879 – 7 April 1961).

Vanessa Stephen was the eldest daughter of Sir Leslie Stephen and Julia Prinsep Duckworth (1846–1895) for many of us she has been overshadowed by her sister Virginia. There were also brothers Thoby (1880–1906) and Adrian (1883–1948), and half-brothers, George and Gerald Duckworth, and they grew up in Westminster, London. She was educated at home in languages, mathematics and history, and took drawing lessons, she attended Sir Arthur Cope’s art school in 1896, and then studied painting at the Royal Academy in 1901. 2-vanessa-bell-7

In later life she alleged that during her childhood she had been sexually molested by her half-brothers, George and Gerald Duckworth, though of course one can only speculate not only if this was true but if it was whether she was the only sister effected and if that had repercussions later in their lives.

After the deaths of her mother in 1895 and her father in 1904, Vanessa moved to Bloomsbury with Virginia and brothers Thoby and Adrian, where they met and began socialising with the artists, writers and intellectuals who would come to form the Bloomsbury Group.

She married Clive Bell in 1907 and they had two sons. The couple had an open marriage, both taking lovers throughout their lives. Bell had affairs with art critic Roger Fry and with the painter Duncan Grant with whom she had a daughter, Angelica in 1918, whom Clive Bell raised as his own child

Vanessa, Clive, Duncan Grant and Duncan’s lover David Garnett moved to the Sussex countryside shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, and settled at Charleston Farmhouse near Firle, East Sussex, where she and Grant painted and worked on commissions for the Omega Workshops established by Roger Fry. Her first solo exhibition was at the Omega Workshops in 1916.vanessa-bell-self-portrait.1257676666

Some of Vanessa Bell’s works were related to her personal life. For example, her illustration for To the Lighthouse, the book by her sister Virginia Woolf, which was not published until 1927, is about a beach with lighthouse that was a part of Bell’s and Woolf’s childhood in St Ives, Cornwall.

I chose two paintings by her the first a self portrait, and I have to say in both this painting and the photo of her there is a definite air of melancholy. it is easy to see that this is a woman who has known pain, something which obviously ran through the family. Though the majority of her paintings are fairly abstract there are other example of still life compositions which I feel are better for demonstrating her actual artistic ability, the more avant garde painting do of course testify for her creativity.

This is one I really liked…

(c) Henrietta Garnett; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Henrietta Garnett; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

White Roses a simple composition however it evokes so much more, the fading blooms wilting, life cut short by the removal from their nature environment and enforced confinement in a vase and the books also trapped by the weight of the water. And of course we know water is the element that took her beloved sister from her.

Do we read too much into the words or paintings of the author or artist? Of course we do! We place our own knowledge, beliefs and theories upon what might be a very simple thing, she may have just seen the roses decided they needed raining a little to catch better light, hence the books and it might just have been a pleasant way to pass an afternoon. The thing is we are both right and both wrong, no interpretation means more than any other because we cannot know every possible meaning for everything. If Virginia had lived would Vanessa’s work have been more well known? Would Vanessa have painted herself smiling in her old age?

So many possibilities but maybe the only real truth is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and needs no other.

Television Tuesday – Watching on I-player

Television

Sometimes you catch a tiny bit of a programme and get frustrated you had not seen it advertised if you are in the UK and it is a BBC programme I-player can be a life saver. Sadly however I could not get any clips but this is the Radio Times link and UK viewers can get the programme links from their for a limited time span. http://www.radiotimes.com/programme/dzxyhp/the-prosecutors-real-crime-and-punishment

I loved this programme because it showed the behind the scenes process in a way you do not often get to see, there are many times when we hear about people getting away with terrible crimes and it is hard to understand why, therefore to see the other side of making those decisions the way they have to try to be impartial as they decide on charges and cases was fascinating.

In one a woman was assaulted by the boyfriend and the case is being dropped until she appeals, it turns out the reason was that witnesses did not want to get involved yet q few interviews later and things have changed and you cannot help wondering why the system failed. You can see a combination of factors in cases, witnesses, physical evidence, police reports, and see how these all go together to create the whole picture. Like in writing there is always a back story for every decision made, while we might not need to share them all sometimes it can be interesting to investigate a few.

Film

I haven’t really watched any films as such this week, I have annoyed myself my misplacing the Game Of Thrones boxset of series 1-3 and the search for that could have made an epic movie by itself, and nope I have not found them so I know they are in a really safe place. I did intend to watch the new Bond film Spectre but that is still sat on my desk where the others should have been so hopefully by the time the A-Z challenge is over I will have watched that.

Youtube

They played this as sort of an intro at the Kylie concert I attended I totally forgot about it until it showed up in the side bar as I searched for something else, I am classing this as the Youtube video rather than the song simply because it was part of a bigger experience than just the song, as you watch it I want you to imagine the DJ who was the warm up act has disappeared down into the stage, the lights are down. Then on two screens one at either side of the stage this appears and the concert begins…

Song

After watching Boy George’s team on The Voice on Saturday night I ended up on Youtube watching lots of 80’s videos so I thought this week I would show a classic, I will also confess that in my naivety I the first time I ever saw Boy George on TV I was convinced he was far too beautiful to be a guy

I am also sharing and extra today and that is a friends new WordPress site where she will be doing book reviews, she will offer services fr both reviews and proofreading so please give her a follow, share and spread the love https://accidentalbookreviews.wordpress.com