Opening Lines

Here are my Opening Lines of 2015 – the first line of the first blog post of every month.  I found this really interesting last year looking back so I wanted to do it again this year. Looking at these you’d think all I’d blogged about this year was self care and books. Link to the post is in brackets.

January – I promised myself I’d make more of my blogging this year. (Self Care Sunday)

February – This week has been a difficult one in many ways. (Self Care Sunday)

March – It’s generally been a terrrible week but there have been a few good moments and I’ve had a great day today despite a few moments of anxiety (new people, train faffing) (Self Care Sunday)

April – (I had intended to post this a couple of days ago but the last two have been good but busy) (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

May – I bought four books in Waterstones last Sunday.  (Reading Down My TBR Pile – Week Six)

June – I think I’m going to move these posts permanently to Monday. (Reading Down My TBR Pile – Week Ten)

July – A combination of a couple of train journeys – including to Birmingham and back – and several late nights sat enjoying the cool of the evening in the garden mean I think I’ve read the most this week that I have since I started writing these weekly “what I’ve been reading” posts. (Reading Down My TBR Pile – Week Fifteen)

August – For the small things worth mentioning but probably not worth a blog entry of their own (Random Bullet Points of Life)

September – 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. (A Summer Breeze by Colette Caddle)

October – Language around disability is a really tricky thing. (“Special Needs”)

November – Once again I’ve been a bad blogger. (Bad Blogger)

December – Actual news, not personal news that is. (All Things News)

Merry Christmas!

It seems as though I’ve forgotten this blog over the last few months. I haven’t, I’ve thought of it often but not been writing. It’s not deliberate, it’s just the way things have gone for no real reason.  Lots of things I’ve thought of writing but not many have actually made it as far as fingers on keyboard and fewer still have made it as far as hitting the publish button.

I’ll be back in a few days with a wrap up post of 2015 I want to write (which may turn into two posts) and I plan to be back with a bang in January.  I’m taking the next few days off of the Internet and social media to rest and catch up on reading and films and things I’ve meant to do but not managed because I’ve been distracted by rubbish on the Internet (and not rubbish on the Internet too).

But for now I just wanted to post to thank everyone who reads this and  especially the few who take the time to comment for their support this year.  And most of all to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn

With today being 8th December I decided it’s finally close enough to Christmas to break out the festive reads.  And I started with Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn.  That’s a digital original ebook novella published by Simon and Schuster who kindly provded me with a free copy to review.

Cover of Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn
Cover of Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn

A perfect winter warmer novella for all fans of Cathy Bramley and Scarlett Bailey.

When sisters Nessie and Sam inherit a little pub in a beautiful country village they jump at the chance to escape their messy lives and start afresh. But when they arrive at the Star and Sixpence, it’s not quite what they imagined – it’s pretty much derelict, ruined by debts, and it’s going to be a huge job to get it up and running again.

It’s just before Christmas but they are determined to relaunch on New Year’s Eve, to bring the new year in with a bang. But with nosy neighbours, miserable locals and no money to contend with, it’s not going to be easy.

And when the sisters’ past comes back to haunt them, they start to think that the fresh start they needed is very far away indeed…

Curl up with Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence – the perfect novella for those winter nights. 

At 90 pages this is a novella not a novel but it was the perfect length to curl up with in the hour or so before dinner after coming in from a busy day cold and tired.  It left me with a warm and festive feeling and I enjoyed it. Today was definitely the right day to start my Christmas reading and this was the right read to kick off with.

Ideally I would have liked it to be a bit longer because I enjoyed it and didn’t want it to end.  I wanted to hear more about the characters, especially Sam and loved the sound of the Star and Sixpence and the yummy cocktails (I want a cocktail now!).  But luckily there are two more installments in the series coming out next year so I will definitely pick those up.  I hope they might delve more into the back story of the sisters because those girls definitely have something lurking in their pasts and I want to know what. More of the love interest too would be good because that was a plot line I particularly enjoyed.

If you’re looking for something fun and festive to read you won’t go wrong with Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence.


All Things News

Actual news, not personal news that is.

Since June I’ve been volunteering as editor for Tenants’ Times -Soha’s community newspaper written by tenants, for tenants which comes out three times a year. I thought I blogged about that but if I did I can’t find it.  And as a part of that I’ve been doing a foundation course in Journalism once a month since October.  It’s interesting and I mostly enjoy it although cruch time for Tenants Times can be frantic and exhausting.

Yesterday I was part of a group of people (all community journalists from 4 different hyperlocal newspapers) who visited Newbury Weekly News.

Newbury Weekly News is a newspaper written, produced and printed in Newbury. They are one of only a few newspapers printed like that now.  The company also print other papers, most20151202_121829ly independents (community newspapers, newsletters, small local papers etc) – currently they print in the region of 60 titles covering an area from Cornwall to Manchester (a selection is in the picture).  This is one way in which the internet has changed things – previously they could only print stuff that people could physically get to them so their range was much smaller.

We got to have a look round, see the various teams working on putting it together in the offices – design, copy etc.  We chatted to the editor and several other people. Without exception everyone we met was so enthusiastic about news and about what they do and what we do with our papers and happy to answer questions and discuss things.  We learned about the history of the company (which was started in 1867) and heard various anecdotes.

After lunch (yummy!) and more chat we got to go look round at the physical production side and see the print presses (they have two complete presses) and also see the CTP area (computer to plate – where they take the computer files and turn them into physical aluminium plates for the presses.  Everything on both sides was so interesting and I could have stayed there chatting for a lot longer.  I also wished I had taken notes.  I did a bit of live tweeting over on the Tenants Times twitter account though.

A few stats and pics. Some of these seemed unbelieve to me and I’m not sure I’ll look at a newspaper in the same way again knowing so much more about what goes into making it.

20151202_133001Big rolls of paper.  There were loads of these as you might imagine. The ones in this picture are double width and contain in the region of 21KM of paper each which is enough to print 14,000 32 page newspapers. I didn’t make a note of this but I think they said these weigh over one ton each.

20151202_133424One of the printing presses. Four different colours of ink are used cyan, black, magenta and yellow.

20151202_133719I was intrigued how you could see a ghost like image of what had been printed on that press before (I assume most recently).

20151202_133950This is a not very clear (a bit too dark) picture of the well or tray (not sure what the technical term is) containing one of the colours of ink for the press – in this case Cyan or as I called it blue. 30kg of ink fits in those which was one of those numbers that made me think “wow that’s huge.” And in total Newbury Weekly News use 80 tons of ink yearly. Which is a number I can’t quite get my head round.
20151202_134820Many computer monitors were on the desk in the CTP (computer to plate) area. I’m not sure I’ve seen so many monitors on one desk before. When computer files arrive they have to be taken through various processes before the plates can be made and printing can begin. One of which is to adjust the colours/files from the three colour setting computers use to the four colour settings printing uses.

We also got to see some just made plates but I didn’t take any photos.  These are made from very high grade aluminium and are brand new. After their one use they are sent for recycling but the recycled product can’t be used for print plates again. The plates are photographic so the lighting where the machines were was yellow as normal light would damage them.

20151202_135853Part of the presses.

Right before we left we saw the presses started and got to watch them in action. This showed finished pages on the tracks hanging down.  It takes approx 35 seconds to go from blank paper to finished newspaper.

It was such a fun and educational trip and I really enjoyed it. I’d like to thank everyone we met for their time and encouragement whilst we were there.