What I’ve Read – July 2018

July was busy, I read quite a bit but it didn’t feel like I was reading loads. My pick for the month is And and I Darken and the rest of the trilogy…

How the French Won Waterloo – or Think They Did – Stephen Clarke

I bought this for Ma for Christmas, it was funny and a little bit French baiting but it was interesting because it explained more English/French cultural difference and I was strongly reminded of my trip around the Legion d’honneur museum in Paris!

Spinning Silver – Naomi Novik

I read and mostly enjoyed the Temeraire books but I really loved Uprooted and the same goes for this. Novik seems more confident when she’s using Eastern European influences than she is with an alternate world Napoleonic war, it shows. Halfway through this I was struck by how the women of the story were changing everything, just as they tried to survive the incompetence and cruelty and pride of the men around them.. It’s a lovely book and worth reading.

Taming Eliza Jane – Shannon Stacey

I like Shannon Stacey and bought this ages ago on special offer. It’s a departure to set it in the West. It’s all a bit handwave-y but I like that Eliza is as she is because of how she’s been treated and I like that the hero accepts this about her, despite the threats of spanking. I also like that Eliza is right but maybe going about change or being misunderstood. It was fun and I finished it in a day while travelling to and from Southampton…

And I Darken – Kiersten White

Now I Rise – Kiersten White

Bright We Burn – Kiersten White

I’m going to take these three together because trilogy. These are a retelling (reimagining of Vlad the Impaler) and they are great books and by the end I want to strangle Leda, because my God she’s an idiot. Full disclosure I have a problem with rulers who can’t do balance and politics and while I knew why she was doing it, she was an idiot. I think her brother was the better ruler/politician/human being. however these are beautifully written and the story is compelling and centred on a region that I don’t know much about. I also appreciated the way that Islam was portrayed as a sane and reasonable alternative to the confusion that Radu found in Christianity. It’s not my view but it was good to see it as a better choice for once.

The Accidentals – Sarina Bowen

So this is Bowen’s YA book and yeah it hits some of those points and I enjoyed it but I guess as someone much older, I want a companion novel that deals with the father and what the hell he’s doing..

After Tonight – Erin Nicholas

I love Nichols’ Sapphire Fall books and this was no different.

Man Card – Sarina Bowen and Tayna Eby

This was better than the first one and the book was also a great ‘travelling to Southampton’ book…

Dirty Rowdy Thing – Christian Lauren

I sort of liked this but I had issues that I didn’t have so much with the others. I was uncomfortable with the age difference in the  which then made me go back and feel uncomfortable with the others. And I didn’t like the heroine because she was ridiculous, being worried and protective I got from the other books but I didn’t feel that her complete over-reaction problem was protectiveness.

Wicked Sexy Liar – Christina Lauren

This was the last of the four and I really liked that the guy was examining his behaviour but other than that it was pretty much straightforward get over yourself.

Stay – Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

This was a fun easy read, I really wish they’d done more than this and Good Boy!

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Monday Miscellany

It’s my birthday!

Yes, I do make a fuss about it although I’m not sure that being halfway through my 40’s all that exciting

We had family lunch yesterday, it’s the first time I’ve seen the boys since Easter, everyone is on fine form, J got a bit hot after our trip to the allotment. (sitting in his pants, just like his grandfather!)

It was lovely to see them.

This week has been all kinds of exciting for new things. I bought a bread bin (I’m in my 40’s, it’s a thing!)Then on Saturday, finally I found chairs for the kitchen. In the local charity shop for £10 each. It’s only taken me 9 years to find the right chairs, we did try before, but now we’re done, and I need to thank Ma who helped me carry them home, in two trips and bashed her face on one of the trips!Today we are just arsing about as it traditional for birthdays. Tomorrow, I’m going to bake and take the take to Christina and Fred for tasting. Wednesday is for theatre, Thursday is for seeing Kathy and the Baxters babies (although they aren’t at all babies anymore) and Friday we are in London for museums (I think!) it’s a big week!

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Sunday Music: Happy Birthday – Stevie Wonder

You’re probably already tired of hearing it, but it’s my birthday tomorrow.

I may have mentioned before that Stevie Wonder was a car tape once Ma had her own car. So this is a song it feels like I’ve always known….

In the US, this is the black Happy Birthday song, and so I’m going to apologise in advance for the cultural appropriation but its the first thing I thought of for today’s post, even I can see that my birthday shouldn’t be a national holiday, although I am having the entirety of next week off to celebrate it!


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Recommendation: Elvis Juice

I quite like Brewdog beers (I also like the Lone Wolf gin they make but like the navy strength over the ordinary one, of course I do!).

This one is my favourite, Elvis Juice

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Friday Links

Happy Friday!

People I have not had a fantastic week, but from 5pm today, I’m on holiday, which I really, really need!

This week, I managed a post every day except Sunday. You may have noticed but over the last two Saturday’s, I’ve had short posts about things that I’m loving/finding useful. They aren’t long posts and I’m not being paid to recommend them or anything, I’m just finding them useful and/or good and I thought it would be good to share. This week was all about my new love of the nightdress, just as the weather broke, but it’s back to being stupidly hot so still useful. Monday Miscellany, on Tuesday I was all about granita, the usual allotment post on Wednesday and a July goal recap yesterday!

Here are this week’s links….

This has been getting lots of mentions, I don’t read Goop, I’m never going to steam my vagina but I found this fascinating nethertheless. How Goop’s Haters Made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Company Worth $250 Million. Also funny….

Charles to treat palace visitors to his 70th birthday pick and mix. Including a cloak of Napoleon’s. Of course Charles likes/admires/whatever Napoleon, who was an emperor not a republican, he rose in the first republic then seized power in a military coup and proclaimed himself emperor. He wasn’t a fan of existing monarchies but he had no issue with overthrowing them and installing his own. Would his brother Jerome been better or worse as a king that our ‘fat friend’ George IV, it’s debatable…

Mesut Özil reminds us why minorities have more than one identity. I’ve always said that assimilation in the UK is harder for black and other people who can’t just blend in once the language barrier is gone. There is a double standard here, in the way that second generation white immigrants can do this without having their loyalty to Britain questioned. I got really mad in 2012 and very time after that someone described Mo Farrah as an immigrant but not Bradley Wiggins (for the record because it bears repeating. Both Farah and Wiggins were born abroad and have one British parent. Both came to Britain as children and lived with their British parent. Neither are immigrants.) Sarah, Tom and I were talking about this a couple of weeks ago. Sarah and I have some Irish heritage and Tom is Irish but committed to being in England at least as long as he is raising his daughter and he’s been pondering how or whether he needs to instill ‘Irishness’ in her.  I have a fairly strong position on this, I like Ireland and am entitled, with some arsing about, to an Irish passport, but I don’t feel Irish because fundamentally, I’m not. My dad was occasionally very insightful and made the point that Britain was where he was born, had paid his taxes, where he lived, been  educated and where he had more freedom religiously and socially than any of his Irish relatives did. He felt and I agree that there was a danger in feeling closer to “your country of heritage” than you did to the one you live in. This danger is seen in the way that Özil allowed himself to be used by Erdogan (you can be proud of your country and heritage and not supportive of dictators in your country of heritage). I also feel that proclaiming myself Irish is pretty insulting to my Irish relatives that did not grow up with the freedoms and privileges that I did. I would imagine that goes more when your country of heritage is poorer than the one you grew up in.

Universities want ‘bums on seats’ because you created a market, minister. Politicians who don’t understand the potential impact of the policies they create…

No bosses, no managers: the truth behind the ‘flat hierarchy’ facade

Don’t call it a wholphin: first sighting of rare whale-dolphin hybrid

Why aren’t British workers calling in sick. For me, it’s because I can work from home. Last year when I sprained my ankle and couldn’t walk for a week, I didn’t take any time off because I worked from home, if I couldn’t have, I’d have been off sick!

Wuthering Heights is a masterpiece of literary genius that is incredibly unpleasant to read. Of the Bronte’s, I’d pick Anne over Charlotte or Emily. And if you say that Wuthering Heights is your favourite book, I will judge

Create a Brexit-ready food cupboard? Many can’t afford their next meal

BBC’s Today programme sheds 800,000 listeners. I blame Sarah Sands…

So Jeremy Hunt is the Tories’ capable one? Let’s look at the evidence …

Middle-aged non-drinkers may have ‘higher risk’ of dementia. Finally some good news….

Somebody at Fitbit needs a lesson on the menstrual cycle. Good point, well made. The tracker also doesn’t let you alter stuff like ovulation date, which I generally know is happening.

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Monthly Goals – July/August 2018

Happy August! August is my birthday month so I have next week off and fun times planned.

Things that happened in July – I went to a school fete, France won the World Cup, I did not get a team to the final – again!, Jo came back for summer and she and I spent an afternoon wondering around Ham House, it was very hot, I went to the Southampton office for work a couple of times, Max came for a visit and there was wine. It was a good month.

July goals were more or less a repeat of June, so I’m going to be quick to recap

Mind and Body

I’m still doing well

  • 10,000 steps a day. or at least more than 70,000 steps a week
  • Vitamins every day.
  • Feet and Hands.
  • Golden hour – More or less
  • Therapy – We’re going to spend August working on slowing down, it was really good to do and right now I’m leaning towards doing a monthly check in session after August. we’ll see.
  • Good things journal everyday – This has been really useful, even last week, when I did not have a great week


Budget & Spending

  • Get through the month without financial explosion. – I’m all on track

House Beautiful

Keep the house tidy – it’ll do, I’ve cleaned the bath more than once in July!

So this is where I tell you what August has in store. I have a week off, there will be family lunch, I’m going to the theatre, making cake for a wedding, working on the plot, hopefully eating all the homegrown tomatoes and sweetcorn I can manage, going to a gin tasting and probably being hot.

I’m going to take my usual month off from goal setting but as you’ll notice if you’ve been following my goal posts, I have most of this under control so I’ll be doing it, just not recapping/thinking about it too much in August!

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Allotment Adventures: Breaking weather

Finally, the heatwave broke. On Friday, it finally got cooler. There was some rain too but Sunday was the day for rain in Ealing.

We didn’t plan on doing a lot on the plot this week. Watering, feeding, picking produce.The corn is doing it’s thing and the tomatoes are getting ripe (and I promise that this week, I won’t eat them but will leave them for a bit!)Lessons from this year, sow more beetroot. Our beetroot bed is done. Leeks will go in that bed next week and I’ll sow some more in the salad bed because that is also done for the summer. The other lesson is more space for a three sisters bed because a metre square is too small!The other squash beds are doing quite well thoughNext week’s work list is mostly about tidying..

  • remove things that Joe can really get into
  • plant leeks
  • plant other kale
  • weed the paths
  • put the verbena plants out
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