Friday, 24 February 2012

Cooking up a storm

I'm being a good little wifey this evening and am cooking up an extravaganza in time for when Steve comes home from his football tournament or whatever it is he has been doing.

I have made potato skins which I will start cooking once Steve is on his way home to go with our sirloin steaks.

I have also been baking! I have made a small batch of triple chocolate cookies, with three types of chocolate chips.

I am definitely marriage material. Nigella and Delia have nothing on me. I'll try to remember to take a picture of the finished article to add to the post.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Book Review: Room

RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book after it was recommended to me and managed to pick it up very reasonably on the Kindle.

This book is told from the point of view of 5 year old Jack and gives us a real insight into his life and world, which are considerably smaller then your average 5 year old. It took me a while to get used to the style of writing, but I think it worked once I had settled into it.

Jack lives with his Ma in Room and they live a very unusual life. In the book Jack takes us through the way they live and changes they encounter along the way.

I preferred the first part of the book to the second as I found the plot lost its way slightly and I found the ending a bit abrupt. However, I thought it was a brave book in both the way it was written and the subjects it tackled and it kept my attention all the way through. If I were allowed to give half stars, I would give it 4.5 due to the drifting of the second part.

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Book Review: Death of a Gossip

Death of a Gossip (Hamish Macbeth, #1)Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is the first in M.C Beaton's Hamish Macbeth series and the first I have read featuring Hamish Macbeth. I decided to give this series a try as I enjoy the Agatha Raisin series so much and I was not disappointed.

I really enjoyed reading this and though it had some strong local characters as well as the fishing school "incomers" and it kept me guessing over who the murderer was.

I liked the Highland twist on the countryside murder mystery and will definitely read the rest of the series!

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Book Review: Small Man in a Book

Small Man In A BookSmall Man In A Book by Rob Brydon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had this autobiography as a Christmas present and got into it as soon as I picked it up to read from my "to read" pile. It was like reading something written by a friend as Rob has a brilliant narrative voice.

I really enjoyed reading about his youth and was suprised that he had a fairly privileged upbringing compared to the majority in South Wales. I think it made it better for me as I knew a lot of the places he talked about in the book so it made it more personal for me.

The book itself only tells Rob's life story up until 2000, so pre Gavin and Stacey and basically pre fame! Rob's struggle to make it was pretty interesting, but the last 80 or so pages runined my enjoyment to be honest as he went into too much detail about the writing and making of Human Remains and Marion and Geoff. I understand that these are the shows that made him, but it just wasn't for me.

All in all a good read with an easy going style and packed with humour.

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Book Review: True Things About Me

True Things About MeTrue Things About Me by Deborah Kay Davies
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I came across this book on my creative writing course as the writer had also attended the same course. An excerpt was given as an example of an unusual writing style. From that excerpt I wanted to read more.

I liked the way that the book was written as it was an unusual style and leant itself to making me feel in tune with the character and feel her panic and how things were running away with her.

The story itself is about a woman who is getting involved with a man who she really shouldn't be. Everything screams wrong, but she just gets in deeper and deeper. The book was really compelling and I kept wanting to read more, but in a way it was something of a morbid fascination as you know it can't go too well.

The reason I have given this three stars is that I felt I couldn't enjoy it because of the subject and the main character wasn't particularly endearing because of the route she was choosing to take. Despite this, I found that it was a good read, if a little disturbing. I liked the style of writing and would read more by Deborah Kay Davies.

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Saturday, 18 February 2012

Chortle out loud

After yesterday’s word related rant post I was having a think last night (Yay! Insomnia!) about vocabulary and the way that words are used these days. I was thinking about how there are so many rich, wondrous words available to us to use to describe things and feelings and yet everyone seems hell bent on abbreviating everything as much as possible. The introduction of text speak (or txt spk) which has crept into our lives, stealing all the vowels is now being used in totally inappropriate situations. I actually grimace when I get an email in work which says “u” instead of “you” or “thnx” instead of “thanks”. I have actually had a work email which said “LOL” too!

And this is another thing I have found. The abbreviations that litter emails, texts and even magazines these days are not only stealing our vowels, but inhibiting our use of the many words available to us, by virtue of the restrictions imposed by the abbreviations (or acronyms as they are also known).

The main word that comes to mind in this way is the humble laugh. The introduction of LOL, LMAO, ROFL and even LMFAO has made it all about the laugh. What about the other words to describe the noises we make when amused? When is a laugh not a laugh? When it’s a giggle, that’s when. Or a chortle. There are a plethora of words which are going to disappear from our language if we don’t carry on using them.

Here are a few of my personal favourites:




Titter (Oooh-err matron)


I have written before about pledging to read the printed word, but it may be time to start a pledge to use the spoken word before it’s too late and it starts to become acceptable to write without using vowels and in a complex code of abbreviations.


Friday, 17 February 2012

Words of wonderment and a water update

Well, I thought last week was bad. I've been off baddy sick this week with what I thought was a virus, but was actually an infection so am feeling very sorry for myself!

I have spent the week reading, sleeping and watching crap TV. I have watched a lot of old sitcoms on Gold and have just watched a Carry On film, but I draw the line at anything with Noel Edwards. He's been out of favour with me since he stopped doing Noel's House Party. Although I am now watching Wedi 7, just because there is nothing else on and I can't be arsed to get up and put a DVD on (or make my lunch to be honest). Although I have just rediscovered the Welsh word for forward slash - blaen sleis. It always makes me giggle. Perhaps you have to be here though.

I have a couple of book reviews to publish, once I've had my lunch and Bruce stops trying to attack my Um Bongo (for vitamin C to make me feel better, although the antibiotics might do a better job).

One thing I have been thinking about from my sick bed (apart from how fed up I am!) is how many words there are out there that frankly don't get enough use in this day and age.

Canoodling being one. The words you hear being used these days are so much more vulgar and less innocent.

Hoot, as in he is a complete hoot. Noone uses hoot enough for my liking. I try to bring it back into conversation but it usually results in someone taking the piss out of me.

Kerfuffle. Why is this not used more? There are all sorts of kerfuffles happening these days. Like those riots last year where loads of kids broke into sports shops to get new daps. They caused a bit of a kerfuffle.

Wondorous. What wondorous weather we are having this fine day. What a fine and wondorous cover is upon that book. A fine and wondorous word indeed.

These are just a few of the underused words I can think of. Maybe we should just start using the less used words more rather than adding new ones to the dictionary. Maybe that would save the country some money on printing new dictionarys and signs. Maybe I will put this idea forward.

Anyway, I went off on a bit of a tangent there. I think it might be the cold getting to me. You might remember my water related issues of last week. Well they were solved when we found that the stop cock (yes I said it!) that was under our sink only seemed like it wasn't working for one reason. It was the wrong effing one!!! We have found that we have two stop cocks, one for the outside tap and one for the water supply to the house. So the reason the water wasn't going off when the "plumber" (who might as well have shouted yee-hah and rode off into the sunset on the back of his trusty steed) was turning the stopcock was that it was the wrong bloody one!! And the stupid twonk (another good word) didn't even think of testing it!!!

So, since this enlightening discovery of the correct stop cock which wasn't fully open, hence the pressure issues, we have had no heating. We have water, and indeed hot water, but no heating. And the bloody boiler is leaking. And our normal plumber is on holiday until Monday. So I have been half freezing to death, as well as suffering with my illness (noone can call me a drama queen) with only a convector heater and a grumpy cat to keep me warm.

But on the plus side I have read loads and am on the mend! Yay!! Anyway, enough of my ramblings (for now!) I am off to make some lunch and watch either Dudley ar Daith (the Welsh Gordon Ramsay, but with less effing and jeffing) or I might put a dvd on and carry on reading Rob Brydon's autobiography!!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Book Review: The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black (Movie Tie-in Edition) by Susan HillI was recommended this book a while ago and decided now would be a good time to read it with the film coming out and all, hence the dodgy picture of Harry Potter (sorry, Daniel Radcliffe) on the cover. I really enjoyed this book and liked the way it was written. The style of writing is similar to that of Sarah Waters and dragged the reader into the story well.

At the beginning of the story we meet a middle aged man who has a fairly comfortable life. We soon find that he has a story to tell which has haunted him for most of his adult life. The rest of the story tells the story of the young man who works for a solicitors in London and has been asked to go and find papers of worth at a clients house out on the marshes in the east of England. We then find that all is not as it seems as Eel Marsh House and a very chilling and creepy story unfolds.

I liked the fact that a lot of the creepy feelings in this book were caused by the power of suggestion and suspense rather than gore and frightening scenes. It is more like a good old fashioned ghost story than a lot of the modern horrors we get today. I really felt the suspense in the book and it was descriptive enough to provide some brilliant imagery, without being too wordy.

The only thing that made it slightly less enjoyable for me was not the fault of the book or the writer, as I guessed the twist at the end. So although I had the build up of suspense, there was no climax to it as I had already figured it out. All in all an enjoyable book and I would recommend it, particularly to anyone who has read The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

One hump or two?

My mum posted this picture on her facebook and I had to share it as it made me giggle.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Why is nothing ever simple?

Well, what a week. Last weekends dripping tap has ended up with Welsh Water coming out to dig my street up. Pretty impressive eh?

In the last week we have found out that our bathroom tap is buggered (technical term, naturally), our stop cock under the sink doesn't work and leaks (although I have found out from the water company that the term is now stop tap as cock is offensive) and that the stop cock/tap out in the street doesn't work either! Hence the digging up of the street to replace it. I wouldn't be suprised if they find a problem with the sewer out there too, but that's just me getting a bit techy.

So if we had happened to have some major leakage incident in the house, we would have been well and truly screwed! But at least it's getting fixed now. Although I do now need a new bathroom tap and a new indoor stop cock/tap.

Enough about water though (although I could have made the story a lot longer, but refrained!).

In other news, its freezing cold, although the snow hasn't yet made a return.

Well, I just looked out the window and saw white stuff coming down, so that's a lie before I start! I don't think it'd enough to stick, but it's definitely coming from the sky!

I finished reading the new Mike Gayle book yesterday, The Stag and Hen Weekend. It was so crap though that I'm not going to bother with a review. I'll just say that it was a bit of a non-story and didn't really have a tidy plot.

I've started reading The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, which I believe has been released as a film in the cinema today. I'm hoping I will enjoy the book as I've heard it's a bit like The little Stranger by Sarah Waters and I love that book.

What are we all up to for valentines? Anything exciting? We're going for a meal tomorrow as on the day its all so forced. They hike the prices up by 20quid, give you a set menu of foods that are either messy as hell or designed to recreate the spaghetti scene in Lady and the Tramp and it always makes me think of a prison visiting area the way all of the tables are laid out and you have to look at each other across the table. I'll just clarify here that I've never been in a prison, but I have watched a lot of Bad Girls, so feel qualified to make this comparison.

Random cat cuteness

If you love cats you need to check out this link!

I could relate with a lot of the positions as Bruce enjoys sleeping in the smallest/most awkward spaces he can, especially in the cold weather!

Enjoy the cuteness!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Book Review: The Invisible Ones

I was sent this book to review by The Book People and really enjoyed it. I never would have picked this out myself as the cover isn’t the most inspiring but it’s well worth a read.

The story is told from two different points of view, a 14 year old gypsy boy called JJ and a middle aged half gypsy private investigator called Ray. Although from two different families, the characters lives get entangled as they both find out more about their background and unravel the mysteries of the Janko family. I think that all of the characters are likeable in their own way, although some are harder to get to know than others.

The story has a few unexpected twists and is enjoyable to read. I particularly liked the sections written from the point of view of JJ as they gave a good insight into the mind of a teenage boy who is, through no fault of his own, a bit of an outsider due to his ethnic origin.

The book is set in the 80s, but I felt that it was quite timeless and could have been set today. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more focus on the ways of the gypsy traveller community, but the book did portray well that not every gypsy is like those you see on Big Fat Gypsy Weddings.

I would recommend this book and would like to read more, particularly about JJ and the Jankos. The ending was quite open so I can imagine the author writing more in the sequel.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

It's snow time!

Today has given us some proper snow in Cardiff. None of the pseudo-snow of earlier in the week, but proper white stuff that is sticking and turning everything white!

Here are some pics I took a few hours ago, although it has got heavier and a little deeper since then.

You can just about see Bruce in this one, before he went to hide in the hedge.

This was when I first let Bruce out in the snow and he wasn't very sure of it. Last time we had snow, it was so deep you couldn't see his legs when he went outside.

This is Bruce when he returned from his snowy adventure and needed a nap in the blanket to warm up a bit!

I'm hoping that the snow won't last as where we live gets cut off in the snow as the council forgets to grit, resulting in it being too dangerous to drive and the bus company refusing to come through.

On the down side today, the washer in the tap in our bathroom sink has broken, meaning we either have water coming out of the tap constantly or it sounds like a whistling kettle, which by the way is particularly annoying! As you know, the DIY skills in our house are somewhat lacking, so even if we could get to the shop to get a new washer, we don't actually know what to do with it because we have a bit of a fancy tap. Not that we would know what to do if we didn't have a fancy tap!

I'm a rugby widow today as the 6 nations rugby has started. I hate sport, I can't be bothered with it. I don't mind watching the Bluebirds live or going to the odd rugby national, but I just don't understand the sports obsession and why it is so exciting. Not great when Steve loves all sports and plays quite often. Each to their own I suppose!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Creative writing: Men

I don’t need men. I can get on better in life without them. No trouble or stress. And it’s cheaper to pay someone to do the odd jobs when you factor in the injuries and mistakes usually made.

I went along to the local hardware shop to see if Mr Jones knew of any reliable handymen (tsk, I know, a reliable man!) and he gave me the number of David.

When I called him he agreed to come straight round to have a look at all of the jobs that had been bodged by my ex.

When I opened the door, I was speechless. He was beautiful.

I needed this man and was going to make him mine. I asked him a few questions whilst leaning across the table as he drank his tea.

The gist of it is that he isn’t single and “her” name is Geraint. Bloody men.

Creative Writing: Black Gold

The dark descent into the mouth of the beast. All of us squeezed together, closer than any man should be to another. Eyes adjusting, our pupils get wider. At the centre of the earth Dai lets us out.

“There you go boys.”

Lamps on, and white faces shining back. The sound of trams running down the tracks. There are men shouting, and the clinking sound of pick axes meeting the glittering black coal face.

On I walk through the winding tunnels, which get smaller and smaller, and I need to hunch my shoulders even more.

Finally, we make it to our area. My office for the day. I start chipping away at the black gold sitting under Wales. And then it happens.

One awful, terrified shout and I knew that was it.

“Boys, get out. The canary is dead.”

Panic. Followed by a deafening roar. Then it all went black.

Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With The Dragon TattooIt took me quite a while to read this book as it took me ages to concentrate enough to get into it. I bought it on the Kindle as I wanted to see what all the fuss was about to be honest!!

The first two paragraphs were very descriptive and told you a lot about characters who you hadn't really met yet. If I hadn't been told it picked up at chapter 3, I would probably have given up.

The main body of the book was very gripping and quite shocking in some places. It followed the story of Blomkvist, a disgraced journalist who has been given the job of finding out what really happened to a girl who disappeared 40 years ago. We also follow Salander, a social outcast whose path eventually crosses with Blomkvist and they work on the mystery together.

This book is not for the faint hearted and is extremely graphic in places. It adds a sense of realism to the book and it has a few unexpected twists and turns. I found that some of the book was over descriptive. I'm not sure if this was intended or whether it was a by-product of being translated from Swedish into English. This made the book quite hard going for me in some places and it took a lot of concentration to read.

I found the last couple of chapters particularly hard going as they were very focused on computer type stuff that I don't understand and corporate sabotage and I found it quite difficult to follow. Maybe if I had more of a business brain then I would have enjoyed this part, but it was a little too much for me.

I enjoyed the book overall and would probably read the rest of the series. I would have given this book 5 stars, had the first two chapters beem omitted and the last few chapters trimmed down. Overall, a good book.