Reading challenge 2017 – update

I’ve not looked at the Reading Challenge for a few months but I’m always reading plus at the beginning of the year when the challenge started I made a note of books for some of the categories on the list.

  1.  About a place you wished you lived – The leaving of things – Jay Antani (India)
  2. In a genre you usually avoid – The lost city of Z – David Grann
  3. With yellow on the cover – The case of the broken doll – Alison Golden and Grace Dagnell
  4. That is becoming a movie in 2017 – The dinner – Herman Koch
  5. A book with a one word title – Greyhound – Steffan Piper
  6. An Audiobook – The memory box – Eva Lesko Natiello
  7. You can get for free – Most of my books are from the library so are free
  8. You planned to read last year but didn’t – End of watch – Stephen King
  9. You read on a trip – Now you see me – SJ Bolton
  10. Suggested by a friend – State of wonder – Ann Patchett
  11. From a series you started but have yet to finish – Finders Keepers – Stephen King
  12. You finish in a day – Blackout – Emily Barr
  13. Published this year –
  14. With an epic romance –
  15. That takes you somewhere warm – Summer in Tuscany – Elizabeth Adler
  16. Short stories or under 200 pages – Public library and other stories – Ali Smith
  17. Considered a 20th century classic – The magic toy shop – Angela Carter
  18. Set in the future – The Circle – Dave Eggers
  19. You choose for the cover – The watcher – Ross Armstrong
  20. With a reputation of Un-put-down-able –
  21. With a mother/daughter relationship – The taken – Alice Clarke-Platts
  22. Free choice – The descent of man – Grayson Perry

It’s going well, considering there’s still 4 months left and only 3 categories left to complete. The hardest will be epic romance as this is not a genre I usually read/look for I have just completed the Harry Potter series (again) and could possibly use that if nothing else comes along before the end of the year.

Suggestions gratefully received….

 

The missing months

It’s been a little while but I needed to take a bit of a step back from everything and take care of me for a while. The last 12 months caught up a bit plus the lack of routine and a couple of awful jobs knocked me sideways. After a chat with the GP, support of family, a couple of good friends and finding a new job things have improved.

So lets catch-up, first the new job. It arrived just at the right time, it’s close to home, the hours are perfect and the most important thing, the staff are lovely. I actually look forward to going to work, it’s busy but not stressful and we have a giggle. I have routine back again.

At the end of May I went to Belfast for a weekend, a quick surprise visit. I’ve never been before but will return. It was a lovely place, friendly people and tons of history. Too much to see in a weekend. Another tick for 50 things

A few weeks of work and school finished, the end of primary school and the start of a new adventure awaits.

We’ve had a birthday and a week away in London, plus several get-together’s with friends has made it a happy summer.

 

 

Our day out

Oscar went away with school for a week so mum and I decided to have a day of sightseeing in London. Train tickets booked and a few ideas of things we would like to see and off we went.

We left Liverpool, in warm sunshine and arrived in a cold, windy London a little over two hours later.

Our first port of call was the British museum for a brief stop and look at the Egyptian collection and the Rosetta stone.

What an amazing shaped building too. I will be returning to explore more inside here.

Next was the National portrait gallery, a favourite place with stunning art work.

Simply beautiful, then a quick stop for coffee in the crypt at St Martins in the field church. A walk down through Covent Garden and the theatre district, then on to Chinatown for some Dim sum.

Then it was time to start making our way back towards the train station, with tired legs but it was a fun, busy day.

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A busy few days.

Sorry for the lack of posts but things have been a bit busy. I finished work, so decided to re-decorate my bedroom.

My mum went away so I put Oscar into her room and moved some of my furniture into his to make painting easier.  I bought some new wallpaper for the chimney breast wall.

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After trying a few tester pots, pale green was the best colour for both the wallpaper and bedding.

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The painting was a nightmare, firstly the lilac underneath shone through the first and second coats, then when going to buy another tin of paint my car broke down and I had to be rescued

and buy a new battery for the car. So three days of painting and 2 tins of paint later it was finished, and looks much better and brighter. It also gave me the opportunity to have a clear out of pictures, ornaments and general junk I’ve kept just because.

I also decided to move the bed and some of the furniture, although I would like some new furniture eventually.

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Ballet and unexpected surprises.

I’m not a girly girl (at all), make-up, shopping and fashion are not my idea of fun in any shape or form. But put me in a theatre with ballet and I suddenly become ‘a girl’

I can’t really explain it, I never did ballet as a child or even saw one. I enjoy the gracefulness of it all and the story-telling without words only music and movement.

Last month I went to see Giselle, a new one for me. It was beautiful, and some of the music I recognised, which was surprising not knowing this ballet. It’s a very romantic, love story and didn’t seem as long as other ballet’s I have seen, however they do say time flies when you’re having fun.

Then we noticed Matthew Bourne was touring with his production of ‘The Red Shoes’ later in the year and this was one that we couldn’t miss. Matthew Bourne’s choreography is spectacular, quirky and always worth watching. His ‘Swan Lake’ with an all male cast is amazing. The morning the tickets went on sale we were on the phone and booked them immediately.

A few days later we noticed an advert on another theatre in Liverpool.

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Again we booked and got front row seats for opening night.

It’s was the craziest busy day and with a bus that never turned up we nearly didn’t make it at all, but I’m glad we did. It was one of the best performances I have ever seen, not just ballet but in general. It was superbly danced and acted. It was funny and sad (yes we laughed loudly). It is a walk-through of the pieces that have shaped his career and his life. Of artists that have impacted him through music or dance.

It wasn’t the longest ballet, each ‘act’ was around 40 minutes and we had two intervals but it was one of the best I’ve seen.

At the end as everyone was preparing to leave an announcement was made that a short question and answer session would follow with Matthew Bourne himself. That alone was worth the money we paid. He was a genuine, down-to-earth person. He refuses to be called Sir, even though he was knighted in 2016.

He explained how and why he’d put these pieces together and answered several audience questions about where his ideas came from, his inspiration and idols. He even gave some hints about his future plans and it would appear that we will be seeing more Matthew Bourne productions later this year and next, and thankfully they all seem to come through Liverpool.

So the future is looking good ……

Destinations

Oscar decided to give me a list of places he’d like to visit, and I’m taking him apparently. It was a little unexpected as there has been no mention of holiday’s or travel in general, but it’s quite an impressive list and started an interesting discussion about a few of the places and his reasons for going.

This is the list …

  1. Hawaii
  2. Vietnam
  3. Thailand
  4. Denmark
  5. China/ Hong Kong
  6. Canada
  7. India
  8. Australia

So I started with the unusual ones for a 10 year old, Thailand and Vietnam, he’s seen them in a few films and TV things and ‘they look interesting’. I explained these might be better explored when he’s older, late teens onward. Both are places I have never been and would like to see, so it’s a possibility.

Hawaii I have been to and it’s a beautiful place, very laid back, a beach type holiday but with history too.I told him about the active volcano and walking up to see the lava flowing also I explained Pearl harbour and have promised to dig out the photos for him. I would love to return but the journey times put me off a little. Although a stop-over on the return could work.

India is somewhere I have been promising to take him for a few years, it’s a favourite country for both myself and my mum. He’s always hearing good things and we will get there soon.

China/ Hong Kong is somewhere I always wanted to visit and had an opportunity a few years back, for many reasons I didn’t take it and in some ways I’m glad but also sad. I’m not sure we will ever get there but I would love to see Hong Kong probably for the same reasons Oscar does.

Canada is his current favourite place because a You-Tuber he follows lives there. It looks fine, not somewhere that’s ever excited me to travel to but who knows. It seems like a colder U.K.

Australia has been on his holiday list for as long as I can remember and he often tells people he’s Australian because we have relatives there ! Again it’s a place I’d love to see but the flight/cost makes it one of those once in a life time kind of holidays.

Denmark is the new one, not sure where this has come from and again not somewhere I have visited. I don’t know a great deal about the country so a bit of research and who knows…

What about you ? Any dream destinations ? Anywhere a child/family member has suggested that has been unexpected or booked somewhere on a whim and loved/hated it ?

Behind the scenes at Dunham Massey

Sometimes misreading a calendar has it’s advantages, and this was one of them. Dunham Massey is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a while, so whilst looking through the national trust book I ‘thought’ it said the house reopened to the public from February.

Off we set, a grey day with drizzly rain which got heavier and heavier the closer we got. Thankfully it was well signposted and easy to find as I forgot the trusty sat-nag (she drives me bonkers and causes more road-rage than any driver ever could)

So we arrived and made a quick dash inside, unfortunately the house wasn’t fully open but they had guided tours for certain areas. I was a little disappointed (at my mistake) but my mind was soon changed as we had a great time.

The first tour was all ‘below stairs’ the guide was beautifully dressed, very informative and hilarious. He told us all about what jobs we would be expected to do, conditions and even had the children getting involved. One boy (aged about 6) was perfectly dressed for his new role as a tiger in his orange and black coat. A tiger was a small stable boy who held the reins of a horse to keep it from moving around. Oscar and another boy were too young to be household boys, so they could have been scarecrows, running up and down the fields shouting to keep the birds away. At 12 they would/could have moved inside of the house for other duties. The first being silver polishing, which they both did very well.

Then we went into the kitchens and laundry rooms, time for us to get wet. The children had a go at washing using a tub and dolly, it lead to lots of splashing and laughing. They all agreed that washing machines made life a lot easier now. It was interesting to discover that gin was used for washing silk, I wonder at what point they decided to have a taste?

The next tour was the art of the house and the two tour guides made this tour something special, they were like a comedy double act. Even Oscar, who wasn’t looking forward to this one because it sounded boring, loved it. The half hour tour took 90 minutes and I’ve never laughed or enjoyed a ‘serious’ tour so much.

I learnt a lot from both of these tours and we are both looking forward to going back again to see the rest of the house and explore the beautiful grounds, weather permitting.

Getting home was an adventure in itself as following road signs for the motorway lead us round in a circle back to where we started ! At least we know for future reference which signs to follow and how to get home.