Photo an Hour #17 ~ December 2014

I decided it might be nice to go with a Sunday for Photo an Hour in December, just to make a change. In the end, it didn’t make a lot of difference to the type of photo I uploaded, because I didn’t do an awful lot, but it’s nice to change things up once in a while!


11am ~ I stayed at Anna’s on Saturday night, and even though they have a small child in the house, I still managed to sleep late! I actually got up earlier, but then snuggled down on the sofa and fell back asleep! When I did get up, I finished my book and Anna put Fun House on the telly. Pat Sharpe’s hair is obviously a beautiful thing to behold.

12pm ~ We had watched the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special the night before, and when there was really nothing on the telly, we put the DVD of the first series on. I can honestly say that I never, ever get bored of watching Gavin and Stacey. It’s probably my favourite sitcom ever.


1pm ~ As I said on Twitter, when you stay at a house in which a small child resides, all you have to do is move and a toy starts talking to you. This is one such toy.

2pm ~ Rob had some trouble finding a suit that fit on a shopping trip, so Anna helped him out by measuring his manly chest. I can’t remember what the outcome was, though he thought it was a bit ridiculous that she was using a Hello Kitty tape measure to do it.


3pm ~ I often end up with a wing mirror photo in my Photo a Day photos! Anna dropped me home, and so I snapped a photo in the car. I actually quite like it because I like the sky in the window reflection.

4pm ~ I also often have a book in the bath photo on these days! I love the cover of this book, but it’s taking me far too long to read it, considering how short it is. Review will follow when I eventually get through it.


5pm ~ For some reason, after I got out of the bath, I felt so completely wiped out. I walked to the shop, and I could barely make it because I felt so weak! I think it was from not eating anything other than toast all day, so I had something to eat and laid down on my bed to read some Empire magazines that I’ve been stockpiling and eat some of my favourite sweets.

6pm ~ Still laying on my bed, but I’d moved onto my book and catching up on Pick of the Pops from Saturday afternoon. As you can see, that’s a different book from the one I was reading in the bath, because this is a library book that needs to go back to the library soonish, so I needed to at least make a start on it!


8pm ~ For some reason I didn’t suspect that if I got into bed to get warm, I would fall asleep, but that’s exactly what happened, and I missed the 7pm photo! I woke up in time to see the end of the Strictly results show, and then Sports Personality of the Year started. It’s changed an awful lot since I used to be obsessive about watching it, and I got bored within about ten minutes of having it on. The only interest it has for me now is to know who won so I can remember for quizzes.

9pm ~ I had some blogging to do, so I wanted to put a film on in the background, so of course I turned to Netflix. I put The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on, but I got bored fairly quickly and ended up watching old episodes of University Challenge on YouTube.

As Louisa from Duck in a Dress is my partner in crime when it comes to Photo an Hour, I have asked her to take up the mantle for every other month going forward. She will be setting the date for January, so be sure to head on over to her blog, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter to find out more. She’ll also be rounding up who joined in with December, so let her know if you were a part of the gang!


Right now, I am mostly…

Reading : As I mentioned in my books post last week, I am trying to reach my goal of 75 books by the end of the year, which left me needing to read 15 books in December. That’s quite a lot, for me, but I’ve already made a good start, as I’m up to 65 already, leaving me with ten to read. I’m particularly looking at the week between Christmas and New Year as a good time to get lots of reading done. Anyway, last week I collected Yes Please from the library, and I had finished it within about 24 hours. If you want to read it, I’d say don’t delay, because I loved every page of it. It’s a fabulous addition to the likes of Bossypants and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, and I’ll be reviewing it later this week.

Watching : I watched Pitch Perfect on Friday night, for the first time. I know I’m way behind the curve with this, because it has been out and much-loved for many years. I don’t know why I hadn’t watched it – I saw the trailer years ago and thought it looked funny, but never got around to watching it. I’m so glad I did; it made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. I’m really looking forward to the sequel next year now.

Eating : Can I just remark on how well Poundland are doing with their sweet selection recently? I keep finding old favourites in there; first it was blackcurrant and liquorice, which I just adore, and then on Saturday, I found some spearmint chews. Yum! (Obviously all of this sugar is doing wonders for my health.)

Celebrating : I have an advent calendar! I don’t generally have an advent calendar, because I don’t really like the chocolate that comes in them, and I didn’t get around to buying myself a Dairy Milk one before the first of the month, and then I couldn’t find one. But then Hannah, being the fabulous friend she is, found one and bought it for me, so I got to eat the first eight or so all at once. Bargain.

Congratulating : My sister, Kim, passed her driving test last week. This makes her a star in our family, as she becomes only the second sibling out of six who have bothered to learn and pass! Well done Kim, I love you!

Worrying : I saw this doll in a charity shop window, and it has worried me ever since. Who would make something like this, and more worryingly, who would buy it?

Dreaming : I have dreamt about Ward Thomas twice in recent months (that’s my subconscious telling me to buy tickets to their tour already), and then on Saturday I dreamt of Simon Mayo. I love dreams.

Worrying : It’s now ten days until Christmas Day, and I’m not even close to being ready. Of course. I’m putting far too much store in the fact that I finish work on Friday, because in my head that means I have all of next week to get stuff sorted, but really I just have four days because I’m busy on Saturday and then Christmas Day is on Thursday. Eek! I don’t even have a tree up yet!

33 Before 33 ~ Visit Ten Bookshops

When I put ‘Visit Ten Bookshops’ on my 33 Before 33 list, I had an idea of a couple of shops I wanted to visit, and when I knew I was going to be in London last weekend, I decided to stop by a couple. As it turns out, I ended up visiting three in one day!

Sorry about the terrible interior shots – iPhone photography was necessary because I didn’t want to whip out my huge camera!

I had never really heard of Daunt Books (for shame), until I noticed it as someone’s favourite book shop during this year’s Books are my Bag campaign, and then it popped up in Jen Campbell’s The Bookshop Book. So I worked out that it wasn’t that far away from where I needed to be on Saturday afternoon, and I skipped along for a little visit. It really is as lovely as everyone says it is – essentially three floors of books, new and second-hand, and I could have spent all day in there. I’ll definitely be heading back; the area is quite well-to-do, and not somewhere that I would be able to spend a lot of money, but Daunt Books would act as a lovely little haven!

From Daunt Books in Marylebone I headed to Bloomsbury to visit Gay’s the Word. For anyone who hasn’t seen Pride (you’re mad, how have you not seen Pride?), Gay’s the Word features as the hub for where the group of campaigners – LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) met and made plans to help support the miners. Obviously as it’s based on a true story, I figured the bookshop was probably real, but it wasn’t until I saw a tweet that I actually realised it was, and that I could visit!

As you can see from the above sign, the bookshop that was used in the film was actually recreated in another part of London, so this location wasn’t actually in the film, but it’s the real place where the group met, and that’s pretty special for me. Pride is my film of the year, it had a hugely profound impact on me when I saw it in September, and I just want to absorb everything Pride-related! The bookshop is lovely; only quite small, but full of wonderful books, as you’d imagine. I had a browse through the second-hand books section and picked up a Truman Capote book, and when I went to pay I saw that there was a sign behind the till that said they had Pits and Perverts t-shirts in stock. For anyone who hasn’t seen the film (again, what are you doing with your life?), or doesn’t know the story, LGSM organised a fundraising event called Pits and Perverts that helped raise money for the striking miners. The t-shirts in the film were just ace, and I wanted one as soon as I had seen the film, but hadn’t had any luck getting hold of one. Of course, as soon as I saw that Gay’s the Word had them for sale, I snapped one up! The gentleman who served me was a lovely chap, helped me work out what size I would need, and told me that they had sold loads since the film had come out.

Again, I know that I’ll visit the shop in the future, because it’s a really nice place to be. Regardless of the Pride connection, it just has a lovely atmosphere, and some really great books.

As it happens, I actually ended up visiting a third bookshop on the same day, because a visit to Hatchards in Picadilly was a part of the walking tour I went on. It’s the oldest bookshop in the UK, and has five floors filled with books. Of the three shops I visited, I would say it had the least atmosphere; it felt a little more corporate than the other two, and less personal as a result. But it’s filled with books, and a lot of books, so that’s always something to be celebrated!

If you read yesterday’s post about the walking tour, you’ll already know this story, but it bears repeating. The tour I was on was split into two groups, and the first group set off about fifteen minutes earlier than my group. When we met up a bit later, it transpired that Bill Nighy had been in Hatchards, and had posed for a photo outside the shop. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. Not only am I a massive Bill Nighy fan, having liked him since I saw him in State of Play many moons ago, but I had a Pride t-shirt in my bag! He has an important and slightly heartbreaking role in the film, and I would have loved to have met him and told him I much I loved the film, and that it had led me to Gay’s the Word and buying a Pits and Perverts t-shirt. Ah well, such is life, but it was such a near miss!

So three shops in one day means I’ve made a pretty good start to this particular challenge. I have a list as long as my arm of bookshops I’d like to visit, so I’m pretty confident that it won’t take me too long to get to ten!

Three down, seven to go on number 5 – Visit ten bookshops

Currys Christmas Walk

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to be invited along to a Christmas walk by Joe Blogs. The idea was to take a look around some posh shops in the West End whilst wearing a piece of Fit Tech, provided by Currys, giving us all the chance to see how good for the health (though maybe not the bank balance) Christmas shopping is! Sadly, with my phone being as old as time itself, I couldn’t get my Jawbone to work, so I couldn’t chart how many steps I had done or how many calories I had burnt. I am still trying to get it working now, and I still have plenty of shopping to do, so as soon as it’s working, I’ll be able to let you know how well I do!

The walking tour of the shops was led by Best LDN Walks; we were split into two groups, and set off from Green Park. We visited a load of shops that have royal warrants, meaning that they officially supply the royal family with their goods. Our tour guide (whose name I have completely forgotten) really knew her stuff, and told us all about the different shops that we were visiting. She kept hold of a balloon the entire time so we didn’t lose her – as you can imagine, London three weeks before Christmas can get a bit busy, so the balloon is a really good idea!

Our first stop was Charbonnel et Walker, which is found on New Bond Street, and has been there since 1875. It is apparently a favourite of the Queen, and we tried her favourite chocolates, violet cremes. Sadly my cold was still raging and I could barely taste anything, but I could tell they were expensive!

We headed onto Hatchards, which was obviously my favourite stop on the tour, because it’s a bookshop! Not only that, it’s the oldest bookshop in the UK. I just love being around books, so even though I didn’t buy anything, and even though once you’re inside, it doesn’t necessarily feel that old, it’s just lovely being around a lot of books. Bookshops and libraries will always be my favourite places. I was slightly devastated put out to discover that the group that had headed off fifteen minutes earlier had met none other than Bill Nighy in the shop, and one of the bloggers had a photo with him. That could have been me!

Now obviously cigar merchants don’t hold the same allure for me as bookshops, but James J Fox is a bit special, because it is where the likes of Oscar Wilde and Winston Churchill bought their cigars. They even have a chair that was used by Winston Churchill when he visited. Needless to say I didn’t buy anything here!

Another of my favourite shops on the tour was Berry Brothers and Rudd, a wine merchant. Now, I’m not really a drinker, save for special occasions, but this is a lovely shop. It’s been around for 315, and is almost unchanged in that time. It has the same floor and walls, and has just been expanded slightly. It supplied the Titanic, and has a letter on the wall from the White Star Line explaining that the ship had ‘foundered’. Fascinating stuff! I declined the offer to partake in a sample of the booze though!

We also visited Floris, which is a perfumers, and we got to smell the fragrances that Marilyn Monroe, Ian Fleming and Winston Churchill preferred. Again, my cold prevented me from really smelling much, but I wasn’t keen on what I could smell of Marilyn’s! It smelt a bit like a disinfectant! Just down the road from Floris was Paxton and Whitfield Cheese, but I didn’t really take a good look in there. I’m not really a cheese eater, and it was very busy in a tiny shop!

While we were walking, we also found ourselves caught up in SantaCon! So many Santas, all moving along the street, and all in various states of inebriation! I snapped the above photo quickly, and even though it turned out blurry, I quite liked it!

As I said, I couldn’t get my piece of FitTech working, but based on what everyone else said about theirs, and the fact that my legs hurt quite a lot by the time I got home, I think it’s safe to say that I burned quite a few calories on this particular Christmas shopping trip! There’s an infographic on the Currys website that tells you exactly what you need to do to burn off those extra Christmas calories. 4 roast potatoes just needs you to bust some moves at the office Christmas party! And you can burn off the calories from two Yorkshire puddings by doing some washing up. Sounds like a fair deal to me!

Thanks to Joe Blogs and Currys for inviting me along, and to Best LDN Walks for a great tour. I’ve been taking a look at their website and they have some seriously amazing looking tours, so I’m planning on going on some more!

* I was invited along to the Currys Christmas Walk by Joe Blogs, and provided with a piece of FitTech for review.

November 2014 Books

I’m rather late with my November books roundup this month; I had completely forgotten about it and now we’re already on the eleventh of the month! November was a little better than October, in fact I doubled my October total! It still wasn’t, and wasn’t enough for my year total, but there were some good books in there!

The Second Life of Sally Mottram – David Nobbs

This was a book that I just grabbed off the shelf at the library, without knowing anything about it, or its author. It told the story of Sally Mottram, a middle aged woman who suddenly loses her husband. She decides to throw herself into reviving the fortunes of her small town, turning it from a near-wasteland into a thriving community. David Nobbs is the man responsible for The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin, which is not a series I ever watched or enjoyed, but I did enjoy this book. It has a strange collection of characters, and a really interesting narrative voice.

The Bookshop Book – Jen Campbell

I reviewed The Bookshop Book last month, and I can honestly say that it’s one of the best books I’ve had the pleasure to read in 2014. It’s so lovely, and shows such a real love for books and bookshops on the part of the author, Jen Campbell. It’s totally contagious too; although I’ve always loved bookshops (of course), reading this book has made me realise that I don’t visit enough! It inspired me to add a bookshop-related goal to my 33 Before 33 list, and I’ve already managed to visit three of the ten I want to go to! If you’re a bibliophile, I can’t recommend this book enough.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

I really enjoyed The Cuckoo’s Calling, the debut novel J.K. Rowling’s penname , so I was keen to read the follow-up when it was published earlier this year. It took me a while to get my hands on it in the end, but I was glad when I did. I find Cormoran Strike quite a compelling character, though I’ve somehow managed to get it into my head that he’s in his fifties, rather than in his thirties. It was nice to learn a little more about Robin, his assistant, and the case was interesting enough to hold my attention throughout, as bizarre as some elements seemed to be. It’s just been announced that the books will be made into a television series, so I’ll be interested to see how they are adapted.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

It’s only just occurred to me that I have two books by J.K. Rowling in this list! It seems a bit of a cheat to include this, because I borrowed it from the library, walked home (reading some), and had finished it within about half an hour! But beggars can’t be choosers, and my book total is so low that it’s going on the list! I can’t believe that it has actually taken me so long to read this, and to be honest, I think I might own it. I have a vague memory of someone buying it for me, but I have just never read it, so when I saw it at the library I just grabbed it. I really enjoyed it, and I even considered reading some of the stories to my nieces, but didn’t get around to it in the end!

So those four books took me to 60 for the year, which is obviously 15 away from my total of 75. I have read a few more since then, but that total is now looking almost completely unobtainable, which I’m devastated about. I’m actually not willing to give up, even with all the Christmas madness to come, I might still do it. Wish me luck!

60 books down, 15 to go in my aim to read 75 books by the end of 2014. Follow me on Goodreads to keep up with my progress.

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