The Secret Life of Lucy Lovecake by Pippa James

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for The Secret Life of Lucy Lovecake by Pippa James.  I’d like to thank the publishers for my copy of the book.

Daisy Delaney’s life is pancake-flat. A talented baker and passionate lingerie specialist, she has wound up with no one to bake for and a career that hasn’t proved successful. But when she starts a delicious relationship with famous French author-chef, Michel Amiel, everything begins to look a bit more exciting.

That is until Michel’s bestselling cookbook is knocked off the top spot by newcomer ‘Lucy Lovecake’. His outdated recipes slide down the charts, while the popularity of Lucy Lovecake’s new dating cookbook is rising like the perfect sponge.

 

The Secret Life of Lucy Lovecake was a lot of fun to read.  I really enjoyed it and can’t remember the last time a book left me with such a good feeling when I finished it. Perfect for a very cold and miserable evening.  In fact I picked this up intending to read the first two chapters and then make something some dinner. I started reading and the next think I knew it was  7pm, I was 50+ pages in and really wishing there was someone who could make me dinner so I didn’t need to put it down.

I can’t decide who my favourite character is.  I should probably say Daisy and I did really like her.  But I must admit to having a soft spot for her group of friends because they were just brilliant and the sort of friends every girl wants. I would tell you who my least favourite character was but that would be a massive spoiler.  I will admit to changing my mind a few times!

One thing I didn’t expect when reading this was how much it inspired me.  I thought it might make me crave sweet treats and it did. But reading the sections where Daisy is writing and trying to get published really made me want to get my writing out and get going with it again.  Just as soon as I finished reading the book.

Pippa James is to be congratulated for producing such a brilliant book with The Secret Life of Lucy Lovecake. It made me laugh and left me with a good feeling, a smile on my face and lots of inspiration.

Check out the other posts on the blog tour to find out more

What Have You Done Today To Make You Feel Proud?

(title is a lyric from the Heather Small song Proud)

A few days ago an acquaintance heard I’d done something and was really impressed. She was trying to encourage me to write about it for Tenants Times because doing so could inspire other people and it was a big deal what I’ve done.

I was frustrated by that conversation because I couldn’t see what the big deal was and I don’t understand why it’s news and people who don’t know me would be interested in it. Plus all I could see was it turning into some form of inspiration porn even if I was the one to write it.

I think she was frustrated by my not viewing it as a big deal and also I don’t think she understood my comments about inspiration porn (I feel I did a poor job of explaining it, in part because of previous conversations).  She commented that I’m worried to feel proud of myself. Which I denied to her and couldn’t be further from the truth.

But here’s the thing: what impressed her (and the two other people in the room) was in part what I did but mostly the fact I did it by myself. And in a wheelchair.

And here’s the other thing (which I didn’t think to share with her). In my circle of friends I can name at least three people who would have decided they wanted to do what I did and gone off and done it by themselves. Plus, it’s something I first did by myself in 2006

A friend has pointed out to me since that society considers this an unusual thing to do alone so maybe that’s part of the reason for her comments. Perhaps it’s something my acquaintance wouldn’t feel able to do.

I don’t view this as a massive inspirational achievement. And she’s right when she says I’m not proud of myself for having done it. But that’s because it’s normal for me. The fact I did it “in a wheelchair” shouldn’t come into it.

As a wheelchair user it’s strange that sometimes I can be doing the simplest thing and I get praise and encouragement when I really don’t need it. And then I get told I need to stop putting barriers on myself when I say access means I can’t do something.  Because the very fact I use a chair makes my existence a big deal.

It’s ableist, in a way.  Because if an able-bodied person had said “hey I did this” it might have turned into a conversation about how she wouldn’t have done it. But it would never have turned into a conversation about writing an article, being inspirational and needing to be proud of myself.

Able bodied people are allowed to be normal and mundane you see. Wheelchair users are either sad people who suffer and need to be pitied or objects of inspiration and awe who are overcoming barriers and our disabilities. We can’t be normal, it’s the law.

It’s pretty fucking othering to be criticised for not being proud of something that isn’t an achievement, I’ve done loads of times and didn’t even have to put a lot of thought into. That reminder that you’re different, you’re not normal and you never can be hits like a ton of bricks. Hearing them talk about how I should write about it to inspire people frustrated me because I’m more than the girl in the chair. Being criticised for not being proud left me feeling pretty shit about myself to be honest.

 

 

 

Reading Down My TBR Pile – week 2

A good reading week this week. I finished a book I started last week and I read another book cover to cover.  I also bought two books (I don’t know why I keep saying I won’t buy books in January, it never works).

The Olive Tree by Lucinda Riley

This was an audiobook I’ve had for a while (I don’t intend to listen to an audiobook a week, it’s just how things have worked out) and I enjoyed it.  Almost wished I’d got to it sooner.  It was easy but intriguing at the same time and kept me hooked. Will definitely be looking out for more by Lucinda Riley.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave.

This was one of the two books I bought this week. I’ve been wanting it since I saw the hardback in the summer – I saw the paperback in the supermarket on publication day and didn’t buy it which I immediately regretted so went back the next day to buy it.

It was absolutely amazing and a compelling read. Relatively complex but not confusing and I just really can’t do this book justice in a few sentences.  I’ve read other books by Chris Cleave and all of them have kept me hooked big style (I thought the Olive Tree kept me hooked and then I read this – I was so much more hooked with this if that makes sense?) I can’t recommend this highly enough.

Reading Down My TBR Pile

I’d like to rename these posts but haven’t thought of a good name so they will stay as Reading Down My TBR Pile for now.

So far this year I’ve read three books and I’m part way through an audiobook. I also think this is the best Bout of Books I’ve had.  I managed to successfully not buy any books this week too – I’ve decided not to buy any in January but that resolve was sorely tested when several bookish people were sharing some amazing deals on twitter for books I thought I’d like.  All in all a successful week.

Here’s what I’ve read

Secrets At The Little Village School by Gervase Phinn

I bought the first Little Village School book on a whim when I saw it for cheap in Sainsburys several years ago. And I’ve been hooked on this series ever since.  This 5th installment didn’t disappoint, it was just as good as the earlier books. They are enjoyable, gentle reads with a real feel good factor and I think I’ve read each one in a day. Judging by the ending I suspect this is the last in the series but I really hope it’s not.

Belgravia by Julian Fellowes

Historical fiction with intrigue and twists (one of which I caught only one page before it was revealed). This reminded me of Downton in that it had all the good aspects and none of the ridiculousness that eventually put me off the series. I was very satisfied with this book and especially with how it ended.

The Hairy Bikers Blood Sweat and Tyres: The Autobiography by Si King and Dave Myers

First audiobook of the year. There’s just something about a memoir on audiobook when it’s read by the authors that I love. This was funny and interesting and made me hanker to read more memoirs. And hearing them read their story bought back happy memories of when I saw them do their live show.

Books, Books and More Books!

Last year I took part in Read Your Own Damn Books – a “you do you” challenge hosted by Andi of Estella’s Revenge with the idea of reading more of the books you already owned.

It’s fair to say I didn’t do very well with it.  My reading dropped off drastically last year compared to previous ones and I pretty much forgot about the challenge in the later months.  I think I ended the year at least 40 books behind what I’d normally read – which is fine, I made the decision not to push myself to read when I wasn’t feeling it and it was the right one.  And looking back through my goodreads list of what I read last year I did read several books I already owned (prior to the start of the year) but most of them were rereads.

However this year I would like to read more and make it a priority.  I’d also like to dive into those books I’ve had waiting for a long time.  A friend wrote on her blog recently that (I’m probably paraphrasing) if you enjoyed buying something and it wasn’t a lot of money it’s served it’s purpose before you read it.  And my Mum often tells me if having a book (or a DVD I guess) makes me happy that’s what matters.  But I do want to read some of the damn things.

I have two bookcases in my lounge (next to each other), one in the hall opposite my powerchair and one in the bedroom at the end of my bed.  On each of those there is a book that always catches my eye when I look at the bookcase.

I will consider my Read My Own Damn Books challenge successful this year if I read those 4 books – two of which I’ve had since a blogger event in 2012, one I got in 2015 and the last I can’t remember when I got it but I’ve had it years.

To try to kickstart my reading this year I read an entire book yesterday – Secrets at the Little Village School by Gervase Phinn – which was excellent (and if memory serves I’ve read each of the books in the series in a day).

And I’m going to take part in Bout of Books this week.  It’s a readathon that I’ve tried several times and never got on with (I think shorter ones work better for me) but there’s a first time for everything!

If you’ve not heard of Bout of Books here’s how they describe it:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 2nd and runs through Sunday, January 8th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 18 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

My goals are simple: start an audiobook to listen to whilst working on my crocheted blanket (I have some unheard and some unused credits so not sure which), read the book I got on New Years Eve (Belgravia by Julian Fellowes) and start one of those 4 books I mentioned about.

2017, Thoughts and Such…

I’m not making any New Years Resolutions this year.  Nor am I setting a “focus word” or doing any of the other major new year, new me things that people post about on the Internet.

I am continuing to work towards the goals on my 101 in 1001 list (which I’ve made a conscious decision not to share here). I get on a lot better with that sort of goal lust than any other.  Or so experience has taught me.  Without checking the list as I can’t be bothered to get it from my bedroom I think I’ve completed 4, have 3 in vague states of planning and have just started another 1 today.   Oh and I looked into one goal but have had to put it on hold for this year.

I also have some very short term goals – this months is read more and write more.

At the moment 2017 looks uninteresting, I don’t anticipate any major changes in my life and don’t have anything hugely exciting planned to look forward to. Uninteresting is kinda good in a way but I’m hoping to get plans for fun things to lookforward   to booked in the next week or so.

I think the biggest thing I’d like for 2017 is for it to be better than 2016 was. But when I stop and properly think about it, as difficult as 2016 was with deaths and broken wheelchairs and other problems it was also a year of good times, brilliant experiences and a couple of new friends. And that’s what matters.

I posted this on facebook last night but think it’s worth sharing here too.  

2016 by the numbers:

6 deaths. And Milo had to be put to sleep

2 new wheelchairs

66 books read (or 21,265 pages)

5 trips to the cinema

I don’t know how many trips to theatre/musicals/comedy

2 West End Musicals

2 print and 1 online edition of Tenants Times

5 trips to Birmingham 

5 visits to London

1 day in Bournemouth

Countless trips to Oxford or Reading

All in all it’s been tricky at times but it’s been one good year.

Opening Lines

2016 has been an interesting year. Not hugely positive in many ways but there were still fun things and moments to remember when I look back.  One thing I’ve done in the last few years and enjoyed is go back through my blog entries and find the first one for each month. This is known online as the Opening Lines meme. I find it interesting to see how much I’d forgotten and refresh my memory.  Compiling this always takes longer than it should because I tend to get lost reading lots of entries as I look to find the first one of each month.

Here are my 2016 Opening Lines:

January – 2016 isn’t getting the start I wanted it to have but luckily it’s also not getting the start I thought yesterday it was going to have. (Not Exactly The Start I Wanted). – About being sick at the start of the year.

February – I’m linking this post up with both this week’s It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? over on The Book Date and with the January check in for the Read Your Own Damn Books Challenge over on Estella’s Revenge. (Reading Down My TBR Pile (2016 Edition) – Week Four) – A recap of my reading.

March – I’ve been so quiet on here and on facebook (and probably quieter than usual but not totally quiet on twitter) that a friend actually text me this morning to check I was OK because she was worried. (Quiet) – Some plans I had and some mental health stuff.

April – For the A to Z blogging challenge this year I’ve decided to have a bookish theme and share some of my favourite books and authors – ones that I’ve loved, those I revisit time and time again.  (An A to Z of Books and Authors: Jane Austen). – This year I only managed to write two entries for the A to Z challenge. This was the first, about my love for classic books and Jane Austen specifically

May – Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day (BADD) (It’s Not Disablism (But Really It Is)) – Some recent experiences I’d had and how I didn’t really see them as a big deal but knew I should (because people around me did)

June – The last weekend in May was the Challenger Class Association Oxford Regatta (Challenger Oxford Regatta 2016) – I very nearly didn’t take part in the regatta but then changed my mind and loved it.

July – A few weeks ago on twitter I started hearing about a concept called Read Without Prejudice (Can You Read Without Prejudice?) – this was a really interesting concept

August – Over the weekend I read A Year of Doing Good by Judith O’Reilly. (Taking One for the Team) – A book that annoyed me but also made me think

September – At CAB today we did some training on how to support clients who are appealing disability benefit decisions.  (An Unexpected Revelation) – Something I hadn’t considered before.

October – I’ve had my new powerchair for two months now. (Miles on My Tyres) – about my new powerchair and the distances I’d been covering.  I’m ending 2016 having had the chair just shy of 5 months and having done 415 miles.

November – I’ve officially had the Jive for three months now.   (Miles on my tyres) – another monthly update on how many miles I’d done in my new powerchair.

December – I used to be scared of dogs. (Milo). -An entry about me and Milo.

Merry Christmas!

I’ve been very quiet on my blog lately and haven’t posted anything Christmassy at all.  I’ve not felt very Christmassy in fact.

I’m not as excited and bouncy about Christmas as I have been before.  Which is fine.  It just pretty much just sums up this year.  It’s been a difficult and long one in many ways that I won’t get into now.  There have been good things and I have good memories.  But as I wrote in an email to an acquaintance last week if I had to sum this year up it would be that it’s been one of broken wheelchairs and deaths.  In previous years my blogging around this time has been about exciting plans I’ve got for the new year and things I want to do in it and how I’m looking forward to that.  At the moment when I think of 2017 I’m mostly thinking that at least it won’t be 2016 any more – I’d like to think next year has to be better than this but I don’t want to say that too loudly.

That’s not to say I’m not enjoying this Christmas season – I’ve read a couple of Christmassy books (not as many as I wanted), been listening to a lot of Christmas music and enjoyed a yearly watch of Arthur Christmas.

I’m looking forward to time spent with family, good food and some traditions. I’m looking forward to some down time to rest and crochet (I’m making myself a blanket and trying to get it done by the end of the year) in front of rubbish TV and do not very much at all.  I’m also looking forward to seeing my nephew enjoy Christmas (although he is still too young to properly get it).And games of Mancala which we only ever seem to play at Christmas.

I’d like to thank everyone who reads my blog for their support this year and wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Milo

I used to be scared of dogs.  Full blown petrified.  I couldn’t even be in the same park as one without being frightened.  And a lot of people who had dogs would say their dog was harmless and wouldn’t scare me but it would. Or they’d tell me parents to give me a day with them and their dog and I’d come back cured. I think the problem is that there was never any thing that my parents or I could put our fingers on as the reason why I was scared (I later developed something of a fear of/hatred for cats and I can tell you exactly why that happened).  There are a lot of memories and stories of things that relate to my phobia of dogs – it was a big thing.

And then I went to uni. On the way home that first Christmas my Dad mentioned they were getting a dog. I freaked out. I didn’t believe him at first. When I realised he was serious I panicked and cried.

I went back to uni before they got the dog and when they did I didn’t want to hear about it.  My family came to visit a few weeks after they got him and brought photos. I was not going to look at those photos. My friend I lived with and my carer were really keen to see the pics but not me.  I did eventually be convinced to look at them but I didn’t want to – I was scared of dogs and I didn’t see the need or the attraction of a dog.

Then we got to Easter and time to go home again. I was so panicked in halls as my Dad packed the car with my stuff that I was basically hysterical and I physically threw up.  They struggled to get me in the house when we arrived but eventually I went in and I met Milo.

I was uncomfortable and a bit scared after that but I was coping. I remember the next day we went to visit my Nanny for lunch and I was really relieved because we’d be gone for a few hours and he wouldn’t come. I could have a break from dealing with him. But then I remembered that she’d moved since I was last home from uni and instead of being about a 25 minute drive away she was now a 5 minute drive away so we wouldn’t be gone as long. And it turned out he came too.

Within a few days I was comfortable with him and happy to stroke him, throw his ball etc. I remember my Mum commenting how quickly that happened, more so than she’d expected I think.  And that grew to being comfortable to be around other dogs too.

It grew to many years of fun and laughter and even frustration and annoyance when he was being a pain.

I remember being out walking him one uni holiday. I was in my manual being pushed by my Dad and holding Milo’s lead. And the manual broke. I’m not really sure how he got us all home.

I remember just how much fun he thought an empty plastic bottle was. And how scary a sneeze was.

When I stopped wearing socks at all I used all of the ones I had to make sock toys for him. He absolutely loved them. The last couple of years I would go to the pound shop at Christmas and buy socks especially to be able to make him one.

I cried the day I heard my family were getting Milo. Because I was scared. I cried harder the day I met him. Because I was more scared.

And on Monday night I cried when my Mum rang to tell me that at the ripe old age of 16 Milo had been put to sleep.

(I’m trying not to cry writing this)

I’m still a bit wary around dogs I don’t know if they’re running loose and I think I always will be (although admittedly I had a negative experience with someone at sailing’s dog earlier this year which was actually made more negative by the way the owner handled it so that may be influencing that).

I would have sworn blind, had you asked me, that I didn’t need to do anything about my dog phobia. It wasn’t having that much of an impact on my life (I thought) and was much more of a problem for others than me (because they thought it was a big deal). But then circumstance meant I had to.  And I’m really glad that I did.

Milo

A photo posted by Emma (@funkyfairy22) on

“She’ll run you over”

There are a lot of allegedly jokey comments that people make about or to me as a wheelchair user.  Usually well meaning and perhaps an attempt at being funny. They aren’t funny.  Most of them never were but one or two may have been if not for the fact that I hear them all the time. 

I’m talking about the “women drivers” comments.

The people who say “do you have a license for that thing?”

Those who randomly see me and go “no speeding!”

And many others.

I often roll my eyes at that sort of thing and let it go because it’s usually strangers and theres no point getting annoyed about that.  When one of the assisted travel guys at London Waterloo put the ramp down and after I drove down it went “who says women can’t drive?!” I asked him if there was meant to be a compliment buried in there somewhere. And he didn’t really answer.  But he was there to get me off the train the next time I went and just said hello.

The comment that really gets me though is made when parents on the street are trying to get their child out of my way. I heard it earlier today and yes the child was taking up space but it wasn’t a huge issue.

It’s “she’ll run you over if you don’t move.”

A lot of kids don’t know what a wheelchair is and don’t know what to make of them. I don’t like the nosy inappropriate questions I get from adults and older kids but if I have the time I was always answer young ones because it’s genuine curiousity and normalising disability (and in my case specifically wheelchairs) is important.
Even if you tell me to or give me permission to I’m not going to run your child over (and I have heard “I’ll let her…” and “I’ll tell her to…”before). Comments like that make my disability and my chair something to be wary of. I’m sick of being made out to be the big bad wolf to be scared of. 

I am not a threat to get your child to do what you want. Stop using me as one. I’m a person the same as everyone else – I just spend my life on wheels.