15 in 31

It’s fair to say I’ve not been reading very much lately other than random crap online – usually fanfic but I read a lot of random forum stuff too.  I’ve got lots of stuff I want to read but I’m not getting round to it.

I’m also quite behind on my two reading goals for the year – my Goodreads challenge which was to read 120 books this year (currently 8 books behind at 81 books read in 2015) and to hit 200 books read from the 1001 books to read before you die (I’d need to check my app but I’ve read approx 170 from it).

So when Andi from Estella’s Revenge posted about her intention to read 15 books in the 31 days of October I decided to join in.  It’s quite a substantial challenge but Dewey’s 24 readathon is in the middle of October and I usually read a couple of books in that day and I’ve also got a couple of long train journeys planned so in theory there are a couple of things in my favour this month that might not otherwise be.  Regardless of whether or not I meet the challenge any extra reading is a good thing!

I’m not going to post a list of books I plan to read because I like to be flexible but there will definitely be ebooks, audiobooks, paperbacks and hardbacks featuring.  I’m also planning to hit the library for some books because I like to use and support our local library but haven’t been there for a few months, possibly longer.

I think the first book will be The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night Time by Mark Haddon which I borrowed from my Mum.

The Wedding of Sophie and James

I’ve been telling people I’m going to post this “tomorrow” since last Wednesday. And now I finally have.

On Saturday 19th September 2015 my sister Sophie married her partner James at Lains Barn in Oxfordshire.  I was a bridesmaid along with my sister in law and two of Sophie’s friends.  It was a lovely occasion and after a terrible week of weather the day of the wedding was hot, bright and sunny.  As was the next day when we had a brunch to continue celebrating at my parents house.  It’s not been as nice since.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to see friends and family – some of whom I hadn’t seen since my brother’s wedding nearly two and a half years ago.  As we went out separate ways at the end of the day we said we’d make plans to meet again soon.  So often that’s one of those things we say but don’t follow through on but I hope we do in this case.  It was also nice to meet James’ family who I hadn’t met before.

I’ll put captions under each of the photos but in terms of visual description I’ll post some basics here first.  The bridesmaid dresses were fuschia which was a much darker purpley pink than I had been anticipating when I was told they were fuschia – I’d imagined a much hotter pink.  Some of these photos don’t do them justice colourwise. The dresses were floor length but I had mine taken up substantially to stop it catching in my wheels. James, his dad, the ushers/best man and my dad all wore three piece suits with a white waistcoast and a fuschia cravat.  My brother was an usher.  My mum wore gray/lilac with a purple fascinator.

I don’t have any photos of the ceremony or immediately after as I didn’t have my phone with me at that point.  A lot of the photos didn’t come out very well but here are the best of them.  One or two of these were shamelessly stolen from Facebook.  The photos aren’t really in order and if you click on them you can view larger (although for some reason some of the larger ones aren’t the right way up)

20150918_170841Bridesmaid prep from the day before the wedding – my hand holding a glass of prosecco and showing off my nails.  They were gel nails with gems along the bottom of each and they lasted chip free until yesterday (so about 10 days) when they just started peeling off. Most of them came off in one piece.

20150919_16163620150919_162244wedding favour – sunflower seeds in a little brown envelope/packet. The top one has the front – a picture of a tree and says Sophie and James and the date and Let Love Blossom. A small piece of paper with my name on is attached with a mini wooden clothes peg. The second picture shows the back and reads: Sow these seeds and watch them bloom to remember us the bride and groom. On the bottom seam of the packet it says “Sow with love”

20150919_183225Bridesmaid bouquet (with my wedding favour tucked in the top so when we came back at the end of the day we’d know which was which). Lots of pinks, mostly roses in this. It’s resting in a large jar on a table.

20150919_183315Flowered centrepiece for the table

20150919_182100Me and my brother after the meal. I think this is one of the best pictures of me I’ve seen from the wedding and have made this my twitter and facebook avatar.

20150919_191942Sophie and James just as a bunch of people were about to through confetti over them. You can see a friend of the family, Pat, in the background getting ready to throw.

20150919_192740Cutting the cake (which was made by James’s sister)

ushersandbridesmaidsBridesmaids and ushers with the bride and groom

creesfamMy immediate family – Geri (and bump!) Ben, James, Sophie, Dad, Mum, Me.

IMG_20150919_152623Me with my cousin’s son Charlie who is 9 months old. Someone told me this photo looks like we’re communicating telepathically.

20150919_210934Hog roast. Perfect evening eats. (The wedding breakfast was a barbecue). I’m a Crees, I had to take a picture of it.

20150919_213444I wheeled through the bar and one point and spotted my mum’s shoes, handbag and another of her bags hanging off a row of coat pegs. It’s fair to say she made herself at home.

20150919_192853This is a silly one. It’s the photographer, from the back. Because everytime I saw him with his camera straps across his back like that it made me think of some sort of “going into battle” harness.

20150919_232717Atmospheric lights, glitter ball, beams of the barn shot.

20150920_000308Me holding my flowers, taken at the end of the night when I suddenly realised I’d not got anyone to take a shot of me as bridesmaid for me.

20150920_112434One from the next day, because it made me laugh. We had a brunch for family, bridesmaids, ushers etc the next day at my parents house. The various flowers from the wedding were dotted around and some people took some home after the brunch. I spotted this wreath of flowers hanging from the outside tap. Because where else are you going to hang the flowers the day after the wedding but from the outside tap?!

Random Bullet Points of Life

For the things worth mentioning but not worth their own blog entry

I promised to post a Reading Down My TBR Pile blog entry today but I don’t actually have anything to write in one. I’m in the middle of an audiobook and a book but haven’t finished anything.

At 4 o’clock Thursday morning a police chase ended with the suspect jumping out of his still moving van. Which then crashed into my fence waking me up and scaring me.

I’ve not been too well for a few days but it’s hard to put a finger on exactly what’s wrong with me.  As part of not being too well I spoke to 111 on Saturday night. I told both the people I spoke to that I use a wheelchair but neither of them asked why. I doubt that matters but I think it’s weird.  I’m much better than I was.

Hopefully my terribly squeaky powerchair is finally going to be fixed Thursday or Friday this week. I’m getting a bit sick of all the “you should oil that” well meaning comments. Because it actually needs replacement castors and you know lubricant is such a good alternative to that. /sarcasm

I’ve signed up to do another mosaic workshop in November

Last week I really didn’t enjoy sailing and I came away wanting to give up. At the moment I don’t intend to but…. (I actually did start writing a longer blog about that then abandoned it)

Reading Down My TBR Pile: Restart

Without the details and the reviews I’ve been posting in these previous entries here is a list of everything I’ve read since the last time I posted one of these Reading Down My TBR Pile updates.  Next Monday I will post a weekly update in the same format as the previous ones but it’s been too long and I can’t remember the details to get into them for these books.  In fact to be completely honest I’ve had to look this list up on Goodreads.  I might put a few comments in if I can remember

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (audiobook on TBR since late last year)

Contact: A Novel by Carl Sagan (Hardback, picked up second hand at an event in 2006). I was a bit disappointed by this. Too much religion not enough sci-fi

The Beach Hut Next Door by Veronica Henry (audiobook, purchased this year).

Johnny’s Girl by Paige Toon (free? e-novella, pretty sure I bought and read this the same day or if not the next day)

Star Trek: New Frontier – The Returned Part 2 by Peter David (ebook, bought and read on publication day). I love Peter David but I remain unconvinced by the concept of serialised novels

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by John le Carre (paperback, think I’ve had it a few years). Read this because it’s on the 1001 books to read before you die list.

The Deep (Dive #2) by Gordon Korman (ebook read and bought the same week)

The Danger (Dive #3) by Gordon Korman (ebook, read and bought in the same week)  I read both of these two Dive books on the same day (the day before my sister’s hen do when I was already in Bath). They were OK but having been somewhat impressed by the portrayal of the character with CP in the first of the trilogy I was very disappointed by the way she was developed in the later two books, particularly the latter.

Counting Stars by Keris Stainton (e-ARC, had it for a week or two before reading it then waited for publication to review it). Loved it, review here.

A Summer Breeze by Colette Caddle (e-ARC which again languished on my TBR for a couple of weeks before reading it). My review is here.

Les Enfants Terribles by Jean Cocteau (paperback, read the day after I bought it). Another 1001 book. Don’t think I understood it properly.

The Humans by Matt Haig (audiobook on TBR since late last year or early this year?). This was such an amazing book. One of the best I’ve read in a long time (for those that have heard me rave about Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey, it’s not quite as good as that but it’s really really good). Can’t recommend it highly enough.

Buckingham Palace Official Souvenir Guide. (paperback guidebook thing which I’d had nearly a year). Read this the day before my return visit to Buckingham Palace because I felt like I should otherwise what was the point in my having bought it?

A Daughter’s Secret by Eleanor Moran (ebook for review which can be found here)

The Royal Line of Succession  (another guidebook I picked up when I went to Buckingham Palace last year)

The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M Cain (paperback I’ve had a few years) from the 1001 list

Quidditch Through The Ages by JK Rowling (paperback bought and read the same week)

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them by JK Rowling (paperback – same as above). Because somehow despite being obsessed by Harry Potter for years I’d never read these two.

A Summer Fling by Milly Johnson (paperback, picked it up at the creative writing masterclass last November)

Food of Love Cookery School by Nicky Pellegrino (audiobook I’ve had a few months).

I feel like I should have read a lot more over the summer because that’s when I tend to do most of my reading – sat in the garden which obviously hasn’t been an option as often as in previous years. But looking at this list now I think I may have done more than I realised…

Counting Stars by @Keris Stainton

A while ago I decided that I wouldn’t go on NetGalley for a while. I have too many books and I was doing OK at not buying them but NetGalley was still a problem.  Then Keris Stainton tweeted that ARC’s of her new book Counting Stars were available on there. And that was that. I had to go on and put a request in.  Thankfully I was approved and didn’t have to wait until publication day (yesterday) to read this awesome book.

Here’s the synopsis for Counting Stars by Keris Stainton.

A new life in a new city – would could possibly go wrong . . . ?

When eighteen-year-old Anna leaves school and moves to Liverpool, she feels like her life is finally beginning. She’s landed her dream job at a theatre, and she’s moving into an exciting (if not slightly run-down) houseshare on a buzzing street lined with shops, bars, and buskers. Best of all, her new flatmates are kind, welcoming and a lot of fun – what more could she ask for?

But her new life is also a little overwhelming. Anna’s job quickly falls through, and then she realises that although her new friends are great, they’re also a little mixed-up… and it’s not long before Anna starts using her blog to talk about her experiences, from the hilarious to the ridiculous to the little-bit-scary. But when Anna spills a bigger secret than she can handle, suddenly the consequences are all too real. She’ll have to prove she has the mettle to make it in the big city, or risk losing everything she thinks she wants.

I think Anna is one of the best teenage characters I’ve read in a book in a long time.  I could relate to her a lot and she made me laugh too.  She also made me very glad that when I was 18 blogs were only just beginning and nowhere near as popular as they are now.  I made some pretty stupid mistakes in my early blogging career as a teenager but luckily the consequences were minor on the whole.  I could totally see myself in the same situation Anna does if I were a newbie teenager blogger today though. Which is a scary thought.

Counting Stars also really made me want to visit Liverpool. And nostalgic for my own just away from home for the first time years. Not sure I’d want to repeat them but I enjoyed (mostly) the memories it brought back.  But that’s not to say that Counting Stars is a nostalgic read because it’s anything but I was just very tired and a bit fragile when I started reading it on the train home from my sister’s hen do and that makes me soppy.  It is in fact a very gritty, very real book that isn’t afraid to tackle proper teenage issues. I loved it.

I’ve got a feeling that most of my blog readers aren’t YA fans like I am.  But if you are, you know a teenager looking for a good read or you fancy trying the genre this would be a good start. In fact I’ve read almost of Keris Stainton’s YA books and really enjoyed them all.

Finally I would like to note that I was enjoying this book so much that I willingly missed an episode of Bake Off to finish reading it.  In fact I ended up missing two episodes because by the time the following week’s episode was on I’d still not found the time to watch the one I’d missed. And I love Bake Off and get annoyed when I can’t watch it.  I did enjoy watching two episodes back to back though.  I enjoyed Counting Stars more.

Have Powerchair, Will Travel (Part 3)

Part One and Part Two

A couple of weeks ago I went to London for the day and went to Buckingham Palace.  I went last year with my mum and you can go back within a year for free if you get your ticket validated.  They wouldn’t validate my mum’s ticket because it was a free carer one but they validated mine and promised another free carer ticket if I went back.  Mum didn’t want to go back but my friend Eleanor came instead.  I wouldn’t have gone back if it wasn’t free but was keen to because as well as getting to look around the Palace they have an exhibition that changes each year.  Last year it was on Royal Childhood which was great. This year it was on Preparing for State Visits which was also very interesting and I enjoyed but I liked Royal Childhood more. Simply because there was so much more and so much more variety to see in that.

I love going to London.  I love the long train journey and a chance to really get stuck into a book. I love the variety of things to go and do. And I love going on the tube.

There are trains from here which go direct to Paddington but I prefer not to go on those – I went on one in January for the first time in years when I went to Cirque du Soleil at the Albert Hall.  The trouble with going to Paddington is it hasn’t until recently had step-free tube access.  And it now claims it does but only to one line in one direction and frankly the details it shares about it (high step and large gap between train and platform) suggest it’s actually nothing like step-free. You could probably bunnyhop a manual chair up it but not a powerchair. Come to think of it, it’s probably considered step-free to platform not step-free to train but the step-free tube guide doesn’t have the colour coding for any station (stations/line with a wheelchair symbol on a blue background are step-free to train, those with a wheelchair symbol on a white background are step-free to platform)

So I get the train from here to Reading and then change onto the local stopper to London Waterloo.  It takes an hour and a half (sometimes slightly less) from Reading to Waterloo but given that it puts me right in the middle of London walking distance from several things and on an accessible tube line (Jubilee) it’s worth it.  Given that I’d have to take the stopper to Paddington due to the safety mechanism in my chair meaning I can’t get on the high speed trains at Didcot it’s not actually that much longer than going to Paddington.

Got off the train in London and had to laugh.  The guard on the train had come down to me when I was getting on the train, asked where I was going to and asked the assistance guy to put me in a different wheelchair space.  Waterloo aren’t good at assistance she says, if I’m in the front space I’m right by where she’s based on the train she can come and help me off quickly rather than hang around while they sort themselves out.  I agree with her that Waterloo tend to be a bit late with assistance and I’m likely this plan. So I’m sat on the train and the guard is stood next to me chatting and holding the onboard ramp up ready to stick it down. I won’t be hanging around, I’ll just be straight off the train all good. Then the train stops and right where it stops on the otherside of the door is a man waiting with a ramp. Honestly… you spend an hour and a half on the train then two ramps come at once 😉

I mooched around for a little while or so (popped briefly to one of my favourite London places that’s right by Waterloo but didn’t have time to do it justice. Probably shouldn’t have bothered but it’s free and they have a much nicer disabled loo than Waterloo does 😛 ) then got on the tube.  That was a quick couple of minutes hop from Waterloo to Green Park.  But the thing about Green Park is that it’s step free by means of a platform hump.  Meaning that I have to board the train at the right place. As noted by the big blue wheelchair symbol on the floor and the “board here for level access at Green Park” underneath it. I love being able to get on (the accessible parts of the tube) when I want without asking for help.  Of the tube and winding my way through the long tunnels and several lift to outside and in the park waiting for Eleanor.

We hung out in the park for a while and then walked across it to Buckingham Palace.  They are very good as a whole at wheelchair access there. I couldn’t access the gardens the normal way so I’ve never seen them but that was all. The first time we went they said there wasn’t access to them which had confused me because I’d thought from the website there was. This time they said there was but we’d have to be escorted and their priority was escorting people in and out the accessible entrance so it might be a wait. We declined.

Popped up to Fortnum and Mason for a look but didn’t buy anything and then Eleanor and I went our separate ways. Cue me forgetting that the platform hump is at the back of the train travelling away from Waterloo but at the front travelling towards Waterloo and getting very confused and having to let about four tubes go before I figured it out (luckily they are about once a minute at that time of day) and twigged that I’d gone the wrong way when I got out the lift. They don’t have the helpful board here for access signs at Green Park because they have the oh so obvious raised platform hump.

Got the train back to Reading and was met by a new assisted travel guy I’ve only met once or twice S.  One of my regulars walked past me as I was getting off the train and called hello.  Then I agreed with the person helping me that as I wanted to go to Starbucks  on the bridge for a bacon butty I’d meet him on the platform for my next train. I could see he was still there talking to someone when I had my sandwich but as we’d said we’d meet on the platform and there was a while yet I headed for the platform. I barely got past them before a third staff member (not one I knew) walked past me and shouted across to them why wasn’t someone helping me, they needed to come help me. S came back over to me at that point and we were discussing need for help vs perceived need for help as we headed to the platform.

Made it back to Didcot and had a quick chat with them there about the fact the lifts are being replaced and so will be shut for the next three months before coming home.

All in all a good day but I had hoped to have a bit more time for mooching in London post Buckingham Palace.

So comes to an end my Have Powerchair, Will Travel series for now.

(Except to note that I went back to Reading last week for the day and no one met me from the train. Luckily someone else getting off went and found a member of platform staff who claimed he hadn’t be told I was coming. Which has since been disproved because I asked the assisted travel guy who came to help me on the train later and he had just started but could see my outward journey booking on his list. *sigh*)

Um, what day is it?

Today’s been one of those days that’s been a little confusing and I have to stop and think about what day it is.

Because it’s Wednesday. But Monday stuff didn’t happen because of the bank holiday.

That’s not what’s confused me. Yesterday, yes I was a little thrown to start with but by this morning I’d gotten over that.

Until I spent this morning at CAB.  Up until the last month or so I’d have told you that was a Thursday thing.  But in August and occasionally before that some Thursdays have been substituted with Wednesdays at CAB.  It really confused both me and my supervisor the first week back in August I did a Wednesday as I hadn’t done one for ages. I was talking about something being the next day and there was this moment when we both just paused and went “or Friday.” I’ve done three Wednesdays at CAB since the beginning of August so they’re becoming more normal again but I do have to think for a minute when I first wake up to remind myself that yup, I’m at CAB today. It still throws me off a little and it’ll probably confuse me more next time it happens because I’ve not got any more Wednesdays at CAB scheduled for now.

But then after CAB I came home for a bit before going out again to what we call knitting.  I meet up with friends I originally met in a stitch and bitch type group.  And we almost always meet on a Thursday. Plus we’re usually evening people. So today being a 4pm on a Wednesday meet up was basically I thought going to be the last thing that made me confused about what day it is.  I’d done two of the three things I do on Thursdays (the third is standing), surely it must be Thursday. I’d had as Mum described it on the phone “Thursday, on Wednesday?”

Only… Wednesdays are also Great British Bake Off night.  It’s the first time since the first week I’ve watched it live. And watching it threw off my “Thursday?” feeling.  But even though this is the second series that’s been on a Wednesday I still associate Bake Off with watching the clock to wonder if we’ll be home in time from sailing to watch it then finding something to do until it ends when we aren’t, making a post sailing sandwich and stalking iPlayer until it’s available.  And being that sailing is a Tuesday thing, those are Tuesday things. Bake Off is a Tuesday thing.

So I’m giving up on knowing what day it is today.  Hopefully I’ll wake up with more of a clue tomorrow!

A Summer Breeze by Colette Caddle

I’ve enjoyed every single Colette Caddle book I’ve read and so when I saw her new book, A Summer Breeze, was available to review I was really keen to have a copy. I can confirm that A Summer Breeze was well worth the read and I enjoyed it.   It’s being published on 24th September 2015.


All Zoe Hall has ever wanted to do is act, then love got in the way of her dreams. But now that she has divorced her husband and come home to Dublin, she is determined to get her career back on track. It’s easier said than done though and she earns just as much helping out her caterer friend, Tara Devlin, as she does from acting.

Finally she is offered a juicy part courtesy of Tara’s famous actor father and heart-throb, Terence Ross. It looks like finally Zoe is going to get a chance to show off her talents – or is she?

At a time when she should be concentrating solely on her acting role, Zoe finds herself drawn deep into the lives, loves and heartaches of the people around her, not least that of her beloved brother, Shane. Consumed by her need to help, Zoe is in grave danger of missing out on her second chance, a chance that may also be her last…

A compelling, emotional story from number one bestseller Colette Caddle.

Collette Caddle’s rapidly becoming one of my “go to”authors when I want an escapist chicklit book – one where I know whatever happens it’ll be a happy ending and I’ll enjoy the journey along the way. Plus she writes Irish fiction and there’s just something about Irish women’s fiction. I can’t explain why but it’s a section of the genre I especially enjoy.

A Summer Breeze is the story of Zoe who is finding her way again after giving up her career for her now exhusband. I enjoyed seeing her grow and change throughout the book and could relate to the times when she was torn and pulled between what she wanted to do for her and what she needed to do for others. One thing that was done particularly well in A Summer Breeze was the portrayal for a character with a mental health condition.  I’ve noticed this is somethng that often features in a Colette Caddle book but she seems to do it slightly different each time which I liked.

I was reading it in the hotel in Birmingham before going to see The Bodyguard and was hard pressed to put it down and go out, kept thinking “I don’t need to get ready yet…” thankfully I needed to do very little to get ready or I might have missed the show! This kept me guessing, smiling and laughing until the end.  There’s a secret in the book that the plot resolves around and I had absolutely no idea what it was but when it was revealled I thought it made sense and worked perfectly.

Well worth a look if you want to try a new author. And if you’ve read a Colette Caddle book before and are wondering if you should read this I’d vote yes.