Photo an Hour #51 ~ October 2017

I feel like I’m on a bit of a roll now with getting up to date with Photo an Hour, though obviously these are famous last words. Last October’s Photo an Hour saw me in Bedford, seeing my brother and his family for my niece’s birthday. I really like the photos from this day!

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8am ~ I slept in my nephew’s bed, and woke up to realise Superman had been keeping watch over me while I slept.

9am ~ Admiring Molly’s amazing autumnal dress.

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11am ~ After a stop for breakfast which I failed to photograph, Molly and I headed into town for some birthday shopping. It’s so spending time with my nieces and nephews and watching them grow up; they are so cute as babies but I really cherish the relationship I get to have with them as they get older and develop their personalities. My grown up nieces and nephews are amongst my very favourite people in all the world.

1pm ~ Shopping is tough work, and I missed a few photos! Mollly was deliberating over whether or not to buy this keyring, so she asked me to attach it to her bag and take a photo so she could make a decision. She decided against it in the end.

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2pm ~ As Molly and I have birthdays that are six days apart, in return for me taking her shopping, she wanted to take me for coffee, so we had a pitstop in Costa.

4pm ~ Another missed hour, but by four o’clock we were back at my brother’s house and Harry, my nephew, was playing with his cars.

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5pm ~ A quick stop at the park before I had to go and get my train, and Harry displayed his extraordinary climbing, swinging, and general monkey-like skills. Seriously, this boy is fearless.

6pm ~ Waiting for my train. How odd, as I write this at 9pm on a sunny summer evening, to imagine that it was this dark at 6pm in the evening. Aren’t seasons funny?

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7pm ~ St Pancras – halfway home! And that’s where the photos stop; no doubt my battery was very much dead by this point in the day!

And because I took an uneven number of photos, please enjoy this one, that my sister-in-law took of me and the children, playing with leaves in the park. There’s a few that she took that I absolutely love; these children are beautiful and very photogenic!

In case you’d like to play next time around, June’s day is set for 28th July. It’s really easy to join in, just take a photo each hour and upload it to Instagram using the hashtag, or save them for a blog post. Once I’m up to date, I’ll start rounding up who joins in, but in the meantime, Louisa at Duck in a Dress is a lot more organised than me, and actually does the round up post!

My Vegan Diary ~ Soho Vegan Market, Yorica & The Diner

As yet, my vegan adventures, outside of the day to day, have been largely confined to London. Mostly due to the proximity; it takes me around an hour to be there by train, and once I’m there, a veritable vegan wonderland awaits. Vegan food in London isn’t hard to find – the problem is narrowing down the choice.

Soho Vegan Market

In April I had plans to see The West Wing Weekly live at the Union Chapel in Islington, so Hannah and I decided to get in as much vegan food as we could manage (that’s quite a lot). It was the first day of the Soho Vegan Market in Rupert Street, so we headed along to check it out.

The market is made up of a handful of food stands, and though it’s always so hard to choose when you are surrounded by such great vegan food, I opted for Jake’s Vegan Steaks, which I had missed out on at Vegan Life Live. The steaks are seitan (wheat gluten, if you’re unaware), and go into a sandwich with added extras.

Jake's Vegan Steaks

I love seitan, but have never actually cooked with it. I’d much rather leave that to the experts! The sandwich was delicious, but I didn’t end up eating it all as there was a lot there. Hannah went for the steamed bao buns from Eat Chay (which she highly recommends).

Vegan Bao Steamed Buns

Yorica

On the way to the market, we had quite coincidentally walked past Yorica, the vegan ice cream shop. It’s another one that I haven’t had a chance to try yet, so it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Vegan ice cream is fairly easy to find in supermarkets, but can be harder to get hold of when eating out. Going into a shop where nothing is off limits is nothing short of a treat!

Vegan Ice Cream Yorica

Vegan Ice Cream Yorica

I had a scoop of mint choc chip, and a scoop of chocolate – a classic but great combination. I also added some letter-shaped sprinkles.

The Diner

As the podcast recording that I was heading to was in Islington, we decided to grab dinner at The Diner. They are a great choice for vegan food in London; they have various branches in the capital, and a great vegetarian and vegan menu. Unsurprisingly, they sell all the traditional American diner dishes that you’d expect, and the vegan options include breakfasts, pancakes, burgers, and salads.

Southern Fried Seitan

Hannah and I both opted for the Southern Fried Seitan Burger, and it was delicious. It’s a lot of seitan for one day, but what are you going to do?

I’ll never stop wanting to eat all the vegan food in London, but I’m hoping that as time goes on, I can explore a few vegan eateries a little closer to home. I’d like to discover the best of what Essex has to offer!

This week in podcasts

Podcasts

These days, if I’m not reading, I’m probably listening to a podcast. In fact, my love for podcasts is probably the reason that my yearly books-read total has taken a bit of a dive, because I can’t get enough of podcasts, and sadly, as good as I am at multi-tasking, I can’t listen and read at the same time.

So I thought I’d do a semi-regular series (all of my series are semi-regular) in which I simply round up what I’ve been listening to. If I can pull my finger out enough to make this a weekly thing, I will. If not, it will be as often as I can find the time to write it.

Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year is a brand new podcast that has been established to replace the Radio 2 Book Club, that used to make up part of Mayo’s Drivetime show. With the advent of a scheduling change, the book club was dropped, so Mayo and his former co-host, Matt Williams, have started this new podcast to fill that gap. The first episode features a fiction and a non-fiction pick: Widows by Lynda La Plante and Reveal by Robbie Williams respectively. The episode includes a chat with each author, both of which are illuminating and interesting (even for a major non-Williams fan like me), and the chemistry between Mayo and Williams that worked so well on the Radio 2 show is here in abundance. There’s also a section for unpublished work, with this week’s episode featuring a story from a ten-year-old that was sent in by his mum. It’s a tried and tested format that works, and while it’s a shame that literary coverage has been dropped from primetime radio, this is a great replacement.

Now into their fifth season, this week The West Wing Weekly covers the fifth episode of the fifth season of The West Wing – Constituency of One. The fifth season is a problematic one for many West Wing fans, as it was the first without the Messianic figure of Aaron Sorkin, and at the end of the last season of this podcast, we learnt that one of our co-hosts, Hrishikesh Hirway, had only watched up to the end of the Sorkin era, and is watching most of the episodes from here on out for the first time. This episode features an interview Jennifer Palmieri, the former White House communications director for Obama, and was communications director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. As ever, this is a podcast that pays very close attention to the details of the episode, and gives what amounts to a close textual analysis. It’s really rather wonderful (though probably less appealing to those who aren’t West Wing fans).

If you’re following and enjoying the World Cup, I recommend the Guardian’s World Cup Football Daily. Unsurprisingly, given its name, there’s a new episode every day, and it simply takes a look at the football action of the day. There’s a lot of technical talk about the games; tactics, players and statistics are all discussed, but as it’s a Guardian production, they aim go a little deeper, and they have erudite correspondents who really know what they are talking about. Definitely recommended for anyone who’s following the football.

Finally, for all you true crime fans, I’ve just started listening to an Australian podcast called The Teacher’s Pet, about Lyn Dawson, a woman who went missing in 1982. It’s widely believed that she was murdered, and two coronial inquests have found that her death was caused by her husband, though there’s no body, and the police don’t seem to have investigated too thoroughly in the early days of her disappearance. I’m only two episodes in, but like all great true crime podcasts, it appears to be well-produced, well-researched, and draws you in from the get-go.

 

Links:

Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year
iTunes | acast

The West Wing Weekly
iTunes | acast

World Cup Football Daily
iTunes | acast

The Teacher’s Pet
iTunes | acast

Photo by LUM3N on Unsplash

May 2018 Books

May-2018-Books

Love Simon by Becky Albertalli

When it comes to YA, I am just so far behind. I mean, I’m 35, I don’t think it’s the most important thing in the world for me to read all the latest books as soon as they come out, but Instagram can give you a pretty big inferiority complex when it comes to reading! Love Simon, or Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda has been on my radar for ages, but then the film started to pop up everywhere, and I wanted to read it before I saw it. I failed at this, but even reading it after I saw the film was a joy.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the story is quite a simple one; Simon is a teenager with a big secret – he’s gay. Simon exchanges emails with Blue, another gay teenager at his school, and they talk about everything without knowing exactly who the other one is. The book is a quite straightforward high school YA book, but it’s full of charm and wit, and characters who you just want to be around forever. I want Simon and his group of friends to be my friends; they are cool, and fun, and decent people for the most part. I loved the book, and then I loved the film, and now I have to read Leah on the Offbeat so I can get a further fix of these people.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Robert Hack and Jack Morelli

The second in the series that I started in April, this moves the story on and focuses on Madam Satan, who is the big bad for this series. She’s going to be played by Madam Satan in the new Netflix series, and I am so excited, because Michelle Gomez is godlike to me due to her portrayal of Sue White in Green Wing. I am yet to read the next in the series, because I moved on to other things, but given that they take me no time at all to read, I should probably get on with it and find out what happens!

First Term at Trebizon by Anne Digby

I received this book as a gift in my Send Someone Awesome a Book swap that I took part in earlier in the year. Some of the wonderfully bookish people that I follow on Instagram (Alex at Odd Socks Alex and Gwen at Shutters and Letters, specifically) came up with the idea of SSAAB Day when they realised that many people don’t have random days of the year on which they are plied with gifts (outside of their birthdays), and because books are so great, wouldn’t it be wonderful to send a random person a book to celebrate their being awesome. This kind of thing was made for the likes of me, and I packaged up my books and sent them off, and received three perfect books to read.

The lady who sent my books (@delightfuldevon) clearly did her research, as I got two boarding school books, and I haven’t read either of them before! I love Malory Towers, so was excited to start the Trebizon series with this one. It’s more or less the same sort of story as Malory Towers, though it’s a little more up to date, being set in the 70s (!). The cast of characters are equally as engaging, with girls to root for and girls to hate, and I’ve passed it on to my niece who appears to be turning into a voracious reader as well. I just need to collect the rest of the series now!

Movie Geek: The Den of Geek Guide to the Movieverse by Simon Brew

I’ve had this on my Kindle for a long time, and I’ve been dipping in and out of it ever since I downloaded it. If you’re a fan of the Den of Geek website, you’ll know that it’s a well-written, well-researched resource for films, television, games, comics, and entertainment in general. Simon Brew, the editor of the website, has ensured that this book has a similar ethos; it’s full of interesting tidbits about the movie world, some of which I’d heard before, and some of which was news to me. It’s the right mix of entertainment, analysis and sheer movie geekiness.

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka 

The now sadly defunct Radio 2 Book Club first alerted me to Girl in Snow, when its author, Danya Kukafka, was on Simon Mayo’s show to talk about her debut novel. It’s the story of a murder in a small Colorado town; popular teenager Lucinda is killed, and the story is told from three perspectives. There’s Cameron, a neighbour of Lucinda’s who had an obsession with her; Jade, her childhood friend whose own life couldn’t be further removed from Lucinda’s, and Russ, one of the police officers on the case. It’s a very slow moving book; the action only seems to take place over the course of a week or so, but it’s more about the secret and inner obsessions of the main characters than about the murder itself. We aren’t invited to learn too much about Lucinda, aside from how her life, and death, have impacted our three narrators. While the action isn’t scintillating, the prose is beautiful, and it wasn’t a story that I wanted to gallop through to find out who the perpetrator was; I was more than content to read it slowly and enjoy it.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Although I’m not a YA superfan, I do like to dabble, particularly in American YA, and particularly in the summer (I think it’s nostalgia for my teenage years, though I’m not really sure where the summer bit comes in). Somehow these books by Jenny Han (there are four in the series), had completely passed me by; they were on my radar, without me ever having picked them up before, or even knowing what they were about. When I spotted the first two in a charity shop, I grabbed them, and devoured them.

The heroine of our story is Lara Jean Song Covey, a Korean-American teenager who lives with her dad and two sisters. It’s a romance, through and through, with the central tenet being that Lara Jean had written a number of never-intended-to-be-posted love letters to all the boys that she loved before, only to find that one day, out of the blue, someone puts them in the post, and all the boys on whom she had previously had crushes are suddenly informed about her until-then secret love.

There’s not a whole lot of stuff going on here that is unexpected or different from the general YA literature that is out there, especially when it comes to the romance side of things, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What I liked the most was Lara Jean’s relationships with her sisters; her older sister Margot, who leaves for university at the start of the story, and Kitty, her younger sister. Kitty is only 10, and as the Covey’s mother died when they were young, Margot and Lara Jean are like the mothers Kitty never knew. With one of Lara Jean’s crushes being her sister Margot’s former boyfriend Josh, another level is added to that relationship, and all of this comes together to make an engaging and interesting family dynamic.

Books so far in 2018 – 21

Just Jane 003

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A semi-regular series in which I share a fact or three about myself.

I come in pretty handy in any situation where knowing lots of trivial facts will be an advantage. This is mostly just pub quizzes or quiz nights, though if you need someone to obnoxiously shout answers at the television during a quiz show, I’m your girl. I know that this is true of many, many people, so it’s kind of annoying, but I just have a head full of facts. I wouldn’t call it useless information, as such, because let’s face it, most information is useful and will come in handy at some point or another, but I do think it’s important to note that what I possess is not necessarily intelligence, it’s more a propensity for retaining information.

I’ve fractured the same wrist twice. The first time, I was 12, and ice skating for the first time. I was on the ice for about ten minutes before I fell, put my hand down to break my fall, and instead, broke my wrist. The second time, I was 34 (and 364 days), and I was roller skating with my friends for a birthday celebration. I fell over, put my hand down to break my fall, and instead, broke my wrist. It turns out that skating is most definitely not for me, and I will never, ever be doing it again.

I spent a semester of my university time abroad, at the University of Connecticut in the USA. It was an experience, and one that I look back on with slightly rose-tinted glasses, but the truth of the matter is that I was miserable for most of my time there, because I was so homesick. This was in 2009 – not a million years ago, but certainly before I had a phone in my pocket that I could use to just say hello to the ones I loved when I fancied. I had to Skype them, which was fine, but not always the most convenient thing, and everyone just felt so far away. I had some amazing experiences while I was there, but there’s no point dressing it up; by around two weeks in, I was already counting the days when I could come home.