June beauty

Hi all. Welcome to the June Wrap-Up!!! Nearly July, the sun is shining and life is good.

Just a few words about my beauty posts on the blog and insta:

1. I don’t profess to be a beauty expert. I work in the theatre and spend my life putting make up on and taking it off. I know what I like and I know what works for me. I also do a lot of research.

2. At the risk of sounding like ridiculous Nigella, I like my products to smell incredible and feel luxurious. I want a pamper to feel like a sensory experience….sounds really wanky!

3. I will never review a product I haven’t used for at least 3 weeks.

4. Skin care is my fave. After a show I can’t get my full face of slap off quick enough. I am more than happy to go without makeup for days but to achieve that I like my skin to look good!!! Open pores are my enemy also knackered mum skin.

5. I am not one of those mums who put a full face on for the school run. CANNOT BE ARSED.

Products in the pic above picture…..

1. Exfolikate Cleanser. @katesomervilleskincare. New product.

2. Rose Hibiscus hydrating facial mist and Emerald Deep Moisture Glow Oil. Both new products. @herbivorebotanicals

3. Vitamin C 23% serum and ferulic acid. @gardenofwisdomskincare. Totally brilliant. Affordable, treats sun damage, evens skin tone.

4. Esse ultra moisturiser. @esseskincareuk. Really luxurious.

5. Botanics Hydrating eye cream. @bootsuk. Light and hydrating. #mumofgirls #instaglam #amroutine #skincare #products #productsthatwork

  • Milkshake Colour Care shampoo and conditioner £27.00 for both.

I completely LOVE my hairdresser. Elthia has been cutting my hair now for about 7 years. Two years ago she moved to Leeds but she still jumps on a train every few weeks to maintain the barnets of a few lucky Londoners. On her trips to London, she does my whole family in the comfort of my kitchen so I get to wear my pjs- it feels very decadent.

Elthia is a person I completely trust so when she gives my a bollocking for using cheap shampoo which isn’t formulated for coloured hair, I listen and do what she says….she has no reason to plug a specific brand as she is not affiliated with a salon. She was also right. Blonde hair is sodding hard to maintain and although there is nowt wrong with Tresemme, it wasn’t keeping my colour fresh or the condition of my hair in check.

Elthia has undoubtedly been proved right. Since using Milkshake my hair is no longer frizzy and dry. This stuff smells AMAZING. It reminds me of American vanilla pudding and I am a complete sucker for a funky bottle. I purchased from Amazon and it came really quickly. So if you have coloured hair listen to Elthia…..don’t use cheap shampoo….it’s worth investing in something specifically for coloured hair!!!! Here endeth the lesson.

    Vitamin C Serum 23% and Ferulic Acid by Garden of Wisdom. £10.00.

I have been using this for about 8 weeks now and it is a brilliant serum. GoW is based in Arizona but now sold at Victoria Health. It is massively popular with beauty experts not due to insta but well, just because their products work. 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏 Price wise it is comparable to The Ordinary but is less science-jargon based. I love The Ordinary but I feel a little like I am sat in chemistry class just to try to understand the label. 🧐🧐🧐🧐🧐🧐🧐🧐🧐🧐🧐 Is it just me or is skincare turning into a GCSE chemistry paper? I find all these percentages, BHAs and AHAs a little intimidating. I do think it’s important however to do your research and not let the scary words intimidate you!!! So for those of us who weren’t so hot at science and maths at school, here it all is in layman’s terms. Why use a vitamin C serum? Vit C makes sun damage and red spots less visible while brightening dull skin. 🍊It contains powerful antioxidants that help protect and heal skin from inflammation. 🍊. It also increases the efficacy of your SPF. 🍊👏🍊. Onto Ferulic Acid. This is an antioxidant found in the cell walls of rice and oats and in the seeds of 🍎and 🍊. In a serum like this it boosts the effectiveness of the vitamin C to help slow the ageing process. Basically, put together Vitamin C and Ferulic Acid are like Batman and Robin for your skin. 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏 I am no beauty expert and I haven’t tried enough other brands to compare but this stuff is affordable, works and is endorsed by people like Caroline Hirons whose opinions I totally respect. Give it a whirl, it won’t break the bank.

  • Kate Somerville. Exfolikate Daily Foaming Cleanser. £16 for 50 ml. £32 for 120ml.

Oh Kate how I love you. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ I have been using this for about a month now and it’s fab. Contains glycolic and lactic acid and also 🍍, papaya and 🎃 enzymes to exfoliate and help you find that elusive glow. The important thing is that it’s gentle enough to use everyday. Gets rid of all makeup and doesn’t leave skin tight and sensitive. It also has lasted bloody ages!! The lather feels really thick and luxurious…almost like a shaving foam. 🎃🍍🎃🍍🎃🍍🎃🍍🎃🍍🎃🍍🎃

Thank you all so much for reading. See you next month!

June Reads

Hello all. I hope my June post finds you well. I am writing this in my bedroom which is hotter and muggier than the sun. I am also sipping raspberry leaf tea in the hope that it might kick start labour. Naughtily, I am eating a packet of haribo that I stole from my daughter’s party bag. I should feel guilty but I don’t. I just feel sweaty and cumbersome.

Reading wise things have changed this month. No longer do I have two books on the go. Two books definitely worked better when I was commuting into work and sitting in the dressing room. Two out of three books this month have been MASSIVE. I usually avoid huge books for fear of reading boredom. Just by chance all three books have been set in the 1930s and onwards.

  • Out of the Hitler Time by Judith Kerr. 3.5-4⭐️.
  • Judith Kerr born 14th June 1923.

Anna was a German child when she had to flee from the Nazis before the War. By the time the bombs began to fall she was a stateless adolescent in London, and after it was all over she became a happily married Englishwoman who had put the past behind her – or so she thought.

In Judith Kerr’s internationally acclaimed trilogy When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, The Other Way Round and A Small Person Far Away, we see the world through Anna’s eyes as she grows up – from her much loved family to Hitler’s Holocaust.

The death of Judith Kerr on 22nd May last month was so sad. Her books are utterly beloved. I remember reading Mog and The Tiger Who Came to Tea as a child and I now read them to my own children. I read When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit when I was a teenager and really enjoyed it but I had no idea it was semi-autobiographical or indeed that it was the first book in a trilogy. I am not someone who tends to read a series in one fell swoop. I tend to get distracted by what else is out there. However, this is a trilogy that I believe really benefits from reading in one go. My only concern would be that for me, as an adult the books became progressively more interesting but I think as a teenage reader, the opposite would be true.

Pink Rabbit was much as I remembered it. The Kerr family fled Germany in 1933, just as Hitler became Chancellor. Anna (Judith’s) father was a theatre critic and author. He was known as a controversial writer and a man who wasn’t scared to say what he thought. As a result he was wanted by the Nazis. The family escaped across the border to Switzerland, then later to Paris and ended up in London.

Kerr writes of her parents:

Their lives were destroyed. My brother and I agreed that the childhood we had was infinitely better than the childhood we would have had if Hitler had never happened and we’d stayed in Germany. We loved the change, the interest of different places and learning a language.

Whilst reading Pink Rabbit I was struck by how resilient Anne and her brother Max were. This was was undoubtedly due to their parents:

“But it won’t be the same – we won’t belong. Do you think we’ll ever really belong anywhere?”

“I suppose not,” said Papa. “Not the way people belong who have lived in one place all their lives. But we’ll belong a little in lots of places, and I think that may be just as good.”

As a parent myself, I can only imagine the fear that Alfred and Julia went through….trying to protect their children whilst at the same time trying to give them as normal a childhood as possible. Indeed, in the novel, Anne says that as long as they are together, then they don’t really feel like refugees.

The middle book, The Other Way Round, is also aimed at teenagers but I think has more appeal for adults. Anna is now 16 and the Kerrs live in London. The book chronicles the Blitz, Max at university, Anna having a job, joining art classes and falling in love. Alfred and Julia are living in a hotel in London with other refugees. Although, now safe from the Nazis, the impact of their refugee status cannot be denied. Thanks to their language skills, Anna and Max are able to transition to London life relatively easily. Alfred’s lack of English leaves him unable to work so Julia is the sole earner, earning almost too little to live off. I was struck that because of the effects of the war, the older generation were still just ‘surviving’ whereas life for the younger people kept on going. The exhaustion of the previous years, keeping the family safe, losing loved ones, causes a divide between the younger and older citizens and that is something I had never really thought about:

Many weeks later she heard that Mrs James had become too ill to work and her scheme had been taken over by a charitable organisation.

“What made her suddenly break down after all this time?” Wondered Anna.

“Four years of war,” said Mrs Hammond. “And the news being better.”

When Anna looked at her without understanding she said impatiently, “The thought of peace – when there’s no longer any point.”

The above quote really made me think. While there were obviously many who rejoiced in the ending of the war, I had never thought about how bleak life was for those who had been so damaged by war that life no longer had any meaning. I guess the prevalent word is ‘hope.’ Younger people like Max and Anna has hope for a brighter future – marriage, children, lifestyles etc. For people like their parents, life would continue to be a battle to survive.

“You remember,” he said, “what you used to say in Paris? That as long as you were with Mama and Papa you wouldn’t feel like a refugee?”

She nodded.

“Well, now I suppose it’s the other way round.”

“How, the other way round?”

Max sighed. “Nowadays,” he said, “I think that the only time they don’t feel like refugees is when they’re with us.”

I think I found the last book A Small Person Far Away the most moving and I’m sad to say that I lost a bit of patience with Anna during reading. Alfred died in 1948. He had a stroke and his wife helped him to commit suicide. In this last book, Anna returns to Germany to look after her mother in hospital who has also tried to take her own life. Anna spends the majority of the book wanting to return to London to be with her husband rather than wanting to look after her mum. I found this really difficult and very frustrating. Julia’s fragility after all she has gone through is very sad. I guess humans can only fight for so long before they are just so exhausted. Julia fought to keep her children safe but as they grew up and needed her less she felt redundant. I can only imagine how exhausted she must have felt:

I’ve made enough new starts. I’ve made enough decisions. I don’t want to make anymore.

I loved all three of these books but my lasting thought was not for Anna and her brother. Naively , when you think of the war ending you think of scenes of happiness and celebration. Of relief and new opportunities. I am ashamed to admit that I have never really thought about those whose lives were so damaged by war, that there was nothing left to live for.

Although the first book is aimed at teenagers, the last two definitely mean more to me as an adult and parent. Definitely worth a read.

  • The Mitford Girls by Mary S Lovell. 4⭐️.
  • Nancy Mitford died 30th June 1973.

Even if the six daughters, born between 1904 and 1920, of the charming, eccentric David, Lord Redesdale and his wife Sydney has been quite ordinary women, the span of their lives – encompassing the most traumatic century in Britain’s history – and the status to which they were born, would have made their story a fascinating one. But Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Decca and Debo, ‘the mad, mad Mitfords’, were far from ordinary.

“I am normal, my wife is normal, but my daughters are each more foolish than the other.” Lord Redesale, father of the Mitford girls.

Each month I am now trying to read a non fiction. If it manages to tie in with my slightly OCD idea of reading authors who were born or died the month we are in then so much the better. This one does. Nancy Mitford died 30th June 1973.

It was my mum who first peaked my interest in the Mitford girls. She received the hardback of this book a few years ago and I remember her telling me about Unity’s infatuation with Hitler. Now as a soon to be mum of 3 girls, anything about mad, interesting, female heavy families peaks my interest. This book has it all. On Goodreads it’s subtitle is Thr Saga of the Mitford Family. This is definitely a saga and reads almost like the plot to a soap opera set during one of the most interesting times in UK history. We have fascism, communism, suicide, fertility, infertility, illness (due to the fact that Mama Mitford was utterly against vaccinating her kids).

Ultimately, I found this quite a sad book. Although the Mitfords had happy times, by the end of the book, there were so many estranged relationships that it was hard to keep up. On our journey back from Cornwall this month, my husband and I listened to Diana Mosley’s Desert Island Discs. This was broadcast in 1989. My husband who knew nothing about the Mitford’s was utterly appalled by Diana: her denial of how many were killed in the Holocaust and her fascination and respect for Hitler. Even 40 years after the war, she was still unable to grasp the sheer horrors of those who suffered at the hands of the fascist regime.

My husband is currently a little worried about his house full of girls so this is one I’m not going to let him read! It’s a saga and a half and well if you love a complicated family, this is definitely one for you.

  • Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Apologies to New Yorkers but we appear to have lost the top of the Chrysler Building. 😱😱😱😱😱😱Rules of Civility by Amor Towles was our book club pick. Expectations were pretty high. Reviews have always been amazing and I was really looking forward to reading it. But…………..🧐🧐I am sure this will make me pretty unpopular but it left me a little cold. I just felt a little, well, meh. 😕. I didn’t really warm to any of the characters and the plot was a little lacklustre. Maybe it just wasn’t plot driven or character driven enough for me. It was an almost read for me….the characters and plot were almost interesting enough but not quite. I just didn’t really care!!!

The writing was beautiful and flowed really well. The lack of speech marks did begin to bother me after a while. Call me a stickler for grammatical convention but I like a speech mark. “I like the fact that they are used to add commentary to conversation,” Ella complained. Complained is an important word here. Without this word it’s up to you, the reader to decide how I said it. You might make the wrong choice and think I said it jokingly. !?!? My point is do you lose an idea of the character without?? Is this why I didn’t really feel for any of the characters?? Did I interpret the conversations wrongly? In hindsight, I don’t think so but it did get me thinking. Also, for me, lack of speech marks makes conversation flow much quicker….too quickly I think, which then results in me skimming.

I feel doubly disappointed because having listened to a lot of podcasts about the book, Amor Towles sounds like the most lovely man. He even writes at the back of my copy that if your book club meets near his house, he will try to come along!! ❤️I am sorry to have failed you Mr Towles it’s obviously not you, it’s me.

As always, thank you for reading. Really looking forward to July….tons of good authors.

May Reads

This month included Mental Health Awareness week which I found quite apt as I feel I have been struggling a bit. I am now 33 weeks pregnant and feel massive. We had a late loss last August and mentally this pregnancy has been tough. The fear and paranoia came back with a vengeance and I have been back on antidepressants for a few months now. I now have about 6 weeks left and I am struggling with all the normal things women struggle with in the last trimester. I know how lucky I am to have a baby on the way and I can’t wait to have her here but I am also at that funny stage of being scared of change……I am a cancerian through and through. I am someone who has to find something to worry about. I am scared how the new baby will affect my marriage and my children. I am also trying to do too much….this is pretty typical of me. I know repainting my house at 33 weeks pregnant is not one of my best ideas but I guess I want to feel I am in control of something when I feel currently like I am out of control.

  • Regeneration by Pat Barker. 4⭐️.
  • Pat Barker born 8th May 1943.

Craiglockhart War Hospital, Scotland, 1917, and army psychiatrist William Rivers is treating shell-shocked soldiers. Under his care are the poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, as well as mute Billy Prior, who is only able to communicate by means of pencil and paper. Rivers’s job is to make the men in his charge healthy enough to fight. Yet the closer he gets to mending his patients’ minds the harder becomes every decision to send them back to the horrors of the front. Pat Barker’s Regeneration is the classic exploration of how the traumas of war brutalised a generation of young men.

Oh my goodness what an amazing novel. Pat Barker did an incredible job researching instances and treatments of PTSD in WW1 soldiers. I have spoken to a lot of people who just choose to read non-fiction but who made an exception to read this brilliant trilogy.

The novel begins with Sassoon’s Soldier’s Declaration:

I have seen and endured the suffering of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.

Sassoon wrote this letter which was printed in the press and read out in the House of Commons in 1917. Although an incredibly decorated and respected soldier, Sassoon was deeply disillusioned with the war- a feeling which probably began with the death of his friend David Cuthbert Thomas. Rather than face court martial, Sassoon was admitted to Craiglockhart hospital where he was treated for shell shock. It is here that he meets a young Wilfred Owen and they are treated by the psychiatrist WHR Rivers. All three of these characters were obviously real people but Barker has introduced many fictional characters to the novel and has weaved them in seamlessly.

The perception of Shell Shock in the novel is particularly moving. The young men who went off to fight for our country had no idea of the horrors they would face. It was to be an adventure. No one would have been mentally prepared for the the conditions, loss of comrades and the fear they dealt with on a daily basis. Even if soldiers had been mentally prepared, treatment and perception of mental illness was still pretty primitive. Indeed the most brutal part of this novel is the electric shock treatment used to regain a soldier’s speech. I was particularly interested and saddened to read how parents reacted to diagnoses of Shell shock in their own sons:

He’d get a damn sight more sympathy from me if he had a bullet up his arse.

The idea of being trapped in your own thoughts and in-turn trapped in the hamster wheel of having to go back out to fight because it was expected of you is terrifying and brutal.

‘You agreed to serve, Siegfried. Nobody’s asking you to change your opinions, or even to keep quiet about them, but you agreed to serve, and if you want the respect of the kind of people you are trying to influencethe Bobbies and the Tommies – you’ve got to be seen to keep your word. They won’t understand if you turn around in the middle of the war and say “I’m sorry, I’ve changed my mind.” To them, that’s just bad form. They’ll say you’re not behaving like a gentleman- and that’s the worst think they can say about anybody.’

I will definitely read the other two books in the trilogy and I urge anyone who loves well-researched novels to pick it up.

  • The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. 3⭐️.
  • Jon Ronson born 10th May 1967.

What if society wasn’t fundamentally rational, but was motivated by insanity? This thought sets Jon Ronson on an utterly compelling adventure into the world of madness.

Along the way, Jon meets psychopaths, those whose lives have been touched by madness and those whose job it is to diagnose it, including the influential psychologist who developed the Psychopath Test, from whom Jon learns the art of psychopath-spotting. A skill which seemingly reveals that madness could indeed be at the heart of everything . . .

Combining Jon Ronson’s trademark humour, charm and investigative incision, The Psychopath Test is both entertaining and honest, unearthing dangerous truths and asking serious questions about how we define normality in a world where we are increasingly judged by our maddest edges.

I wondered if sometimes the difference between a psychopath in Broadmoor and a psychopath on Wall Street was the luck of being born into a stable, rich family.

This was a pretty quick read and I did enjoy it but it left me questioning…..

1. On the back page Will Self said he ‘laughted like a loon.’ I am mortified to say that I don’t even think I cracked a wry smile!!!!! 😱😱😱😱 God I hate it when books say things like that and you spend the time wondering what is wrong with you!!! I feel like this when I pick up a classic…..so scared that I’m just not going to ‘get it’ and then feel stupid. Anyway I feel a little like the joke is on me and I am probably the only person in the world who wasn’t rolling in the aisles.

2. So many of Ronson’s point were on the money. The fact that there is now a diagnosis for every slightly odd mental health tick is a little worrying. I don’t believe it’s helpful to put everything under a ‘syndrome.’ I mean kids being medicated for bi-polar????? This terrifies me. Extremes of emotion surely come hand in hand with young children. I believe ADD is very real and must be very hard to deal with as a parent but diagnosing a child with bi-polar is just terrifying.

3. The Psychopath Test by Bob Hare is really interesting.

These are the points Hare has used….

Ronson makes the point that the difference between a psychopath in Broadmoor and a psychopath in Wall Street is luck, wealth and a stable family. This really got me thinking and is a really interesting point. The chapter when Ronson meets business man Al Dunlap who believes he has a lot of the ‘traits’ on the PCL-R checklist but views them all as positives in the business world is really thought provoking.

Really interesting read and don’t be put off if you don’t laugh like a loon!

  • The Storyteller by Jodie Picoult. 4⭐️.
  • Jodie Picoult born 19th May 1966.

After a tragic accident which left her deeply scarred, Sage Singer retreated into herself, allowing her guilt to govern her life. When she befriends kindly retired teacher Josef, it seems that life has finally offered her a chance of healing.

But the gentle man Sage thinks she knows is in fact hiding a terrible secret. Josef was an SS officer during the Holocaust and now he wishes to die – and he wants Sage to help him.

As Joseph begins to reveal his past to her, Sage is horrified. 

Does this past give her the right to kill him?A compelling tale about the line between justice and mercy from the internationally bestselling author Jodi Picoult.

Gillian Flynn and Jodie Picoult are my go to authors when I just want a rollicking good read. Nothing too complicated but a story that will keep me turning pages late into the night and I guess that’s what it’s all about no????? Reading a book that you can’t put down. Life is good when you have an enjoyable book on the go.

Since we studied WW2 in school it has been a period in history I read a lot about. I guess I am utterly incredulous how the holocaust, something so horrific happened not that long ago. Since having a family of my own, I read the books and watch the documentaries and films with tears rolling down my cheeks. It’s not often a book makes me cry but this one did. The terror, the brutality that people lived through completely terrifies me and since having my daughters, when I read about children being killed, I see my own girls.

I have to say that my heart sank a little when the love story started to develop. I am not a fan of a love story. I would never choose to read a romance and I often find romantic storylines entwined around the Holocaust in slightly bad taste. I am pleased to say that the love element didn’t ruin the book for me and it didn’t take over the novel.

  • Spring Fever by PG Wodehouse. 4🌟.

When a man needs only two hundred pounds to marry his cook and buy a public house, one would expect his life to be trouble free, but the fifth Earl of Shortlands has to reckon with his haughty daughter, Lady Adela, and Mervyn Spink, his butler, who also happens to be his rival in love. Mike Cardinal offers to sort out the problem by pretending to be Stanwood Cobbold but his way is blocked by Spink and reformed burglar, Augustus Robb. Confused? Let P.G.Wodehouse untangle the complications in this light-hearted comedy which ends happily – for almost everyone.

This was our book club read of the month. I have to say that I find picking books for this group pretty tricky. I try to pick 6 books each month and the group vote on which one they would like to read. There tends to be a mix of classic authors and more modern books. The group is mainly made up of young mums who want to get back into reading. A lot of these women have jobs and young kid so for the majority, a book that is easily accessible is the key. This is fine but it does make the conversation a little dry. I remember the best book club I ever did was 50 Shades of Grey. People (including myself) absolutely loathed it and as a result the chat was entertaining and hilarious. I find with my current group that time is precious so if they dislike a book, they give up and don’t come to the meeting…I completely respect this decision. However, it means the meeting is comprised of people who enjoyed what they read which often means that the conversation isn’t that exciting. Maybe I should just be happy that people are reading but sometimes I just want a strong opinion. Hey ho. Never happy I guess.

So this was the June pick and 4/5 people who turned up ‘likedit. I have to agree. There isn’t much to dislike. I can’t say that it is a novel which will change my life but I found it enjoyable. The one lady who disliked it didn’t like the element of farce and thought the character were a little ridiculous. Again, I couldn’t really disagree. An easy, enjoyable, amusing read.

This month started with a revelation. One night while wading through all the dross on Facebook, I came across a post about downloading audiobooks on a library app. Just Wow!!!! I downloaded Libby, put in my library card number and I have a world of ebooks and audiobooks at my fingertips. I am supporting my library and no longer paying for audible. Proper happy!!!

My first listen was Lust by Roald Dahl. If you haven’t read and short stories by the genius that is Dahl, PLEASE DO! Dahl’s imagination blows my brain. He starts a story and you have no idea where it will go. The stories in this compilation all revolve around sex. I loved each one and found them app hilarious.

The 4:50 From Paddington was a quick listen while I painted the bathroom. There is something so comforting about Agatha Christie isn’t there?!? You always know the baddie will be caught. Love it. Also lovely to hear the late June Whitfield playing Miss Marple.

I haven’t yet finished Smut by Alan Bennett. Bennett also deserves a Birthday wave as he was born on 9th May 1934. Like Dahl, Bennett can do no wrong. I completely adore his writing and he makes me laugh so much. His characters are utterly brilliant and very believable. I went to boarding school in Settle, North Yorkshire which is where Bennett lives. He is one of my hero’s and I adored reading Talking Heads for my A Level set text. If you have never picked up Bennett please do. I promise you will be moved and amused in equal measure.

Until next month. Thanks for reading.

May kids reads

So, mid-May and we are in the final countdown before little girl #3 comes along. Having lost a baby last August I am definitely ready for my baby to be here. I know how lucky I am but this pregnancy has been proper stressful. I am at that strange third trimester phase of being excited and also terrified of change. Typical cancerian, change is a little scary for me!!! 🤣😱. Next week we are off to Mousehole in Cornwall for our last holiday as a 4. Definitely the last time we can all fit comfortably in the car. I am completely ready to have some proper family time. Sandcastles, crab salads, ice cream and hopefully some good books.

  • The Railway Children by E Nesbit.
  • E Nesbit died 4th May 1924.

‘“Oh! My Daddy, my Daddy!” That scream went like a knife into the heart of everyone in the train, and people put their heads out of the window to see a tall pale man with thin lips set in a close line, and a little girl clinging to him with arms and legs, while his arms went tightly round her.’ ❤️🚂❤️🚂❤️🚂❤️🚂❤️🚂

Not a review but who doesn’t have fond memories of The Railway Children??? We used to have it on cassette and it was definitely one of my favourite. I also loved the film. Mr Perks has to be one of the best characters and I remember loving the part when the Old Gentleman sent the hamper when mother had influenza. Just beautiful.

  • Peter Pan by J M Barrie.
  • J M Barrie born 9th May 1860.

‘”Wendy,” Peter Pan continued in a voice that no woman has ever yet been able to resist, “Wendy, one girl is more use than twenty boys.”‘🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I wonder what Mr Barrie thinks of the legacy he left behind? I remember my dad taking me to see it at the cinema….it must have been re-released as this outing definitely didn’t happen in 1953. Following the Leader is a song that we probably sing everyday in my family!!!

  • Toto. The Dog Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz by Michael Morpurgo.
  • L Frank Baum born 15th May 1856.

From master storyteller MICHAEL MORPURGO, and illustrated in stunning colour by the award-winning EMMA CHICHESTER CLARK, comes a surprising, charming and uplifting twist on The Wizard of Oz, told by a very special and unforgettable character: Dorothy’s pet dog, Toto. A perfect, collectible gift for all children (and children at heart).

“I was there,” Papa Toto said, and those magic words sent shivers down my spine. It was going to be the Wizard story. “Dorothy and me were both there.”
We were all silent, snuggled up together, waiting, waiting.
Then Papa Toto began…

When a twister descends on their Kansas farm, Toto and his owner Dorothy hide in the house – only to be plucked into the air and whisked away!

Coming down with a crash in the mysterious land of Oz, the pair meet a series of extraordinary characters: a scarecrow who believes he has no brains, a tin man without a heart, and a cowardly lion who may not be as cowardly as he thinks he is.

But Toto and Dorothy are desperate to return home – after all, home is home, and home is best! So they set off with their new friends on a journey down the yellow brick road to find the only person who might be able to help them: the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

But what they find might surprise them. And on the way, all of them will learn that what they think they are missing might have been there, all along…

Beautifully illustrated throughout, this is an unforgettable telling of a classic story, and a must for every bookshelf.

I was really happy to discover this book and it would be a perfect gift for a Wizard of Oz fan. Telling the tale from Toto’s point of view is a fab twist and Chichester Clark’s illustrations are beautiful and colourful. Unfortunately, Edie (6) was a little young to appreciate it….you know when you have to skip bits or use ridiculously exaggerated voices to hold their attention??? Yes, I felt that I had to do that a lot. Anyway, I think it would be brilliant to read aloud to a 7/8 year old. Lovely book.

  • The Complete Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem.
  • Jill Barklem born 23rd May 1951.

If I had to name a book or series that summed up my childhood it would be the Brambly Hedge series by Jill Barklem. When my sister and I were little we lived in a village outside of Market Harborough. My paternal grandparents lived in Carlisle so seeing them was a big treat. I remember when we woke up in the mornings we could get into their bed and Grandma would read to us. Grandpa who was a typical dour Scot would try to grab our legs under the covers….I remember always being a little scared of him. Coming from a family of boys he found the idea of granddaughters pretty terrifying. Not so my Grandma. I used to love her reading to me and Brambly Hedge was my favourite. I loved the idea of the mice having their whole world under our noses. The illustrations were absolutely wonderful – really detailed so there were always new things to spot. I think my favourite was Winter Story. This one really captured my imagination….the mice find a forgotten part of the house which is full of old toys and dressing up clothes….what child wouldn’t love this?!?!? My idea of heaven.

The Well-Loved Tales from Ladybird are a massive hit in our house. I remember loving them as a child so every time I pass a second hand book shop I scour the shelves. Ceci completely adores The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids, The Three Little Pigs and also Rapunzel. Edie is more of an Elves and the Shoemaker kind of girl. I also remember having a lot of these stories on cassette….the accompanying music was always something by Beethoven….did anyone else have the same tapes???

  • The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside.

Wherever Jenny goes, her worries follow her – in a big blue bag. They are with her all the time – at school, at home, when she is watching TV and even in the bathroom! Jenny decides they have to go, but who will help her get rid of them?

A funny and reassuring look at dealing with worries and anxiety, to be used as a spring board into important conversations with your child.

13th-19th May is Mental Health Awareness Week so I thought I should post a book that helps deal with anxiety in children. With the imminent arrival of our third daughter, I wanted to read a book which would prompt the girls to tell me their worries about the baby. Brownie points go to the emotional and hormonal mum but my girls weren’t interested. No worries apparently. 🤰🤦‍♀️🤰🤦‍♀️. So instead of pressing the issue, I read the book in bed with a nice cuppa. 😂🤦‍♀️😂The illustrations are lovely and it’s perfect for KS1 and 2 children who like me are worriers. 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️I have had depression on and off since I was 16 years old. It is not something I am ashamed of. It’s something that makes me me along with a wobbly mummy tummy and small boobs. I used to feel guilty that I had no ‘reason’ to be depressed but now I accept that it’s just down to chemistry. (I always hated chemistry at school so it’s probably karma🤣). I have taken Citalopram but am currently taking Sertraline for my depression. Both have worked well and I have always been able to come off them easily when I have wanted to – MYTH 1 BUSTED. 🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌

I am getting on well with Sertraline and still able to get emotional when my daughter sings songs from The Greatest Showman. Your drug of choice DOESN’T have to make you feel like an emotional desert – MYTH 2 BUSTED – If your medication isn’t working for you, try something else. 🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌

I think the important word in MHA Week is to be AWARE. Be pro-active about your mental health. No one should feel hopeless and like you are at the bottom of a dark well. No one should feel ashamed when they are struggling. Please ask for help. Go to a doctor or a counsellor. You have one life. Live it! Learn what keeps you sane. For me it’s books. I need the escape a book provides me, I need the feeling of achievement finishing a book gives me and most of all I need the solitude that reading provides. 📚😀📚😀📚😀📚😀📚😀📚😀📚Please don’t suffer in silence.

Right that is all from me this month. I am currently writing this from our tiny cottage in Mousehole Cornwall. Ozzie has taken then girls rockpooling so I have about half an hour before they return overtired and probably with bleeding knees!!!!

May Beauty

Body confidence. Something I am not feeling at the moment. I would love to be one of those women who embrace their pregnant bodies and all the stretch marks but right now, with 6 weeks left I feel pretty rank. My bump looks like a sack of spuds that is just hanging off me. My tummy is covered in stretch marks – I was really good with bio-oiling in my first pregnancy, during my second I got a bit cocky and lazy and as a result I am a stretch marked nightmare. I also had an umbilical hernia which was repaired after my second daughter was born so although I don’t have an outy this time, my tummy button is a little like a fried egg. I also have varicose veins everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE. Really. I feel heavy, bloated and cumbersome. Now for a bit of positivity…..my skin looks good. I like my pregnancy freckles and I do look kinda glowy or that could be the sweat…..don’t get me started on the sweat. 🤦‍♀️🤰🤦‍♀️🤰🤦‍♀️🤰🤦‍♀️🤰🤦‍♀️🤰🤦‍♀️🤰🤦‍♀️🤰🤦‍♀️

  • Drunk Elephant. Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser. £29.

My husband calls me an advertisers dream and unfortunately he is right. When Drunk Elephant first arrived in the UK I really wanted to try it mainly because of the packaging. 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️ The bold colours are just so eye catching. Then of course I read reviews and REALLY wanted to try it. I was a good girl and used up all my other cleansers, all the while looking at the pot of green loveliness that was waiting for me in the bathroom.

💚🐘💚🐘Good points…..

1. It has lasted ages so far….8 weeks and going strong.

2. Honestly does melt the makeup. Gets rid of waterproof mascara with no scrubbing and no irritation.

3. Leaves skin really soft.

4. Comes with a little vial of Bamboo Booster Grains to exfoliate.

5. The colour of the packaging. I 💚the green!!!

6. It comes with a funky, magnetic spatula thing. To be honest, I think this is a little gimmicky….I mean do we really need a spatula? Can’t we just gouge??? For those who aren’t gougers I’m sure it’s a good thing and magnets are cool.

Bad points…….

1. The smell of ‘nothing.’ This is a pretty ridiculous bad point and hard to explain unless you have had an opportunity to smell the ‘nothing.’ The lack of perfume prevents irritation but the smell of ‘nothing’ is quite strong. 🧐🤨😊🧐🤨😊🧐🤨😊🧐🤨🤨⭐️🤨 In conclusion, I would definitely repurchase.

  • Clairol Root Touch Up. £4.99.

Brilliant. School run, pouring rain, Edie tells me I look “just like a man.” She then softens the harsh brutality of her comment by saying that I look like “the horrid boy from the wizard film.” She means Draco. 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️ She isn’t talking about my youthful 11 year old skin, she means my slicked back blonde hair. 👱‍♀️ 👱🏽 👱‍♂️👱‍♂️👱🏽👱‍♀️👱‍♂️👱🏽👱‍♀️👱‍♀️This brings me on to my topic….Being Blonde is a Ball Ache! First World Problems I know. As a child it’s ok. You never get to play Mary in the Nativity but you are often the 🌟 or Gabriel. I only started dying my hair in 2011. I just wanted a few highlights for my wedding. Little did I know the high maintenance life that would ensue. The colour options are numerous…honey, ashy etc. It’s a hard colour to wear when you look a bit pale and knackered. And the roots!!!!!! I tried to embrace the roots until a child asked my why I dye the top part of my hair black. Also, I’m not cool enough to be ‘rooty.’ My hairdresser is totally brilliant but the reality is that blonde hair takes maintenance and I can’t be arsed. 😂😂😂 This Root Touch Up is my saviour. In between dye jobs I just chuck it on, wait 10 minutes and it looks better!!! It defo keeps the dye job going and blends really well with the colour my hairdresser uses.

  • Paula’s Choice Calm Exfoliant. £24.00.

I really love this stuff. Having children does weird things to you skin and I have definitely noticed that now my chin is pretty red. I was looking for something calming, hydrating and exfoliating and this definitely did the job. My glowing chin has definitely calmed down. It contains 1% salicylic acid which removes skin build up. I tend to use it in the morning and Pixi Glow Tonic at night and the quality of my skin has definitely improved beyond measure. Sun spots, red patches and pores are reduces and skin feels moisturised. Brilliant.

  • O’Keeffes Skin Repair Body Lotion. £5.99.

Thanks to my slack mumness, I am often guilty of shaving my legs with very old razors. Consequently, my legs are often red, itchy and sensitive. The sensitivity definitely gets exacerbated by warm, sweaty, summer nights. This body lotion is brill. Mega thick and if you put it on in the morning your skin still feels moisturised by the evening. Also the packaging is yellow…who doesn’t love yellow? Anyway for quality and value for money it’s top 🍌!

Coming up next month will be reviews of Rose Hibiscus Facial Spritz and Emerald Facial Oil both by Herbivore. They arrived today but I am going to give it a month or so so they can work their magic. So far I can tell you they smell beautiful.

Thanks for reading. See you in June. X

April Reads

  • Hi all. Hope April was a good reading month for you. I have stopped work now and am on baby countdown. Really looking forward to May as we have some nice family time away. We are heading to Mousehole in Cornwall for a week for half term. Think it will be the last time we can all comfortable travel in the car. Definitely not going to be as easy with 3 stroppy kids in the back!!!
    • Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz. 4⭐️.
    • Anthony Horowitz born 5th April 1955.

    Sherlock Holmes is dead. 

    Days after Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty fall to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives from New York. The death of Moriarty has created a poisonous vacuum which has been swiftly filled by a fiendish new criminal mastermind. Ably assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones, a devoted student of Holmes’s methods of investigation and deduction, Chase must hunt down this shadowy figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, a man determined to engulf London in a tide of murder and menace. 

    The game is afoot . . .

    The first book I read this year was The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz and I completely adored it. I still haven’t ventured into any of the work by Conan Doyle (that will come in May or July) but as Horowitz is the only author authorised by the Sherlock Holmes estate to write about the great man, I feel I am well prepared and I feel that when I finally meet Doyle’s Holmes, it will be like meeting an old friend.

    Moriarty didn’t disappoint. Holmes and Watson do not appear and the action centres around American Investigator Frederick Chase, and Holmes obsessed Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard. Jones is a character that appears in Doyle’s novel The Sign of the Four written in 1890. Jones appears as a policeman who comes under criticism by Holmes for his poor attempts at deduction. In Horowitz’s book, Jones appears to have taken Holmes’s criticisms on board to the point of obsession. I don’t want to go into detail about the storyline. I will tell you that after the first 50 pages, I couldn’t put it down. The characters are brilliant and Jones and Chase seem to completely model themselves on Watson and Holmes. I will say that this book is more graphic and brutal than the first and I did miss the detail of Victorian London which was such a big part of House of Silk.

    • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. 3.5⭐️.
    • Barbara Kingsolver born 8th April 1955.

    An international bestseller and a modern classic, this suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and their remarkable reconstruction has been read, adored and shared by millions around the world.This new edition for 2017 features a cover design by award-winning fashion designer, Tina Lobondi.

    This story is told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. 

    They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it – from garden seeds to Scripture – is calamitously transformed on African soil.

    This book was published in the UK in 1999 and must have been on my shelf for about 15 years. I have to admit that I approached it with some trepidation….firstly, it’s long, 543 pages. I am always slightly wary of long books. I remember as a child feeling very grown up if I was clutching a book with over 400 pages. In fact I would search out long books over shorter novels. Now as a grown up, long books intimidate me. What if it’s just a bore and I have to spend 3 weeks lingering over a book that others have adored but I just find a bit dull??? I suppose I am an impatient reader. I want to try everything – every sweet in the shop and I haven’t got time to dedicate to a massive tome that I’m just not loving. My second reason for reticence was this book was bought for me by my wonderful sister in law. She and many other good friends and readers whose views I respect gave it really high marks on Goodreads. Would I love it as much? Would I disappoint them if I didn’t adore it?

    So, my verdict……???????? A solid 3.5 stars. I can’t say it changed my life. In fact I frequently felt frustrated because it wasn’t the story I wanted it to be. I kept expecting Kingsolver to elaborate on the women’s revolt against Nathan, the evangelical patriarch. Nathan’s relationship firstly with his family and secondly with the community in South Africa was so interesting and sometimes surprising funny, I just wanted more of it…..

    Yet we sang in church Tata Nzolo! Which means Father in Heaven or Father of Fish Bait depending on how you sing it, and that pretty much summed up my quandary. I could never work out if we were to view religion as a life-insurance policy or a life sentence.

    I enjoyed the story jumping for one Price woman to the other and I loved hearing their different perspectives. On reading reviews, Rachel gets a lot of criticism but for me she was my favourite. I thought that as a character she was just so well observed. Starting the novel as a 15 year old, self-centred teenager, she learns nothing and is changed relatively little by her experiences in the Congo. The arrogance of youth that Kingsolver taps into during her chapters is just fabulous. Words that Rachel uses incorrectly and her observations of her surroundings provide a little light relief which for me was much needed.

    That would be Axelroot all over, To turn up with an extra wife or two claiming that’s how they do it here. Maybe he’s been in Africa so long he has forgotten that we Christians have our own system of marriage, and it is called Monotony.

    I am pleased that I have finally read this book. I enjoyed it but feel it probably could have been about 100 pages shorter. I’m sure this sounds like a silly thing to say but for me I was looking for a plot driven narrative and this was definitely character driven. The idea of an evangelical preacher trying to impose his views on his family and a community which ultimately wasn’t interested was the novel I wanted to read and there wasn’t enough of that for me.

    • Engleby by Sebastian Faulks. 4⭐️.
    • Sebastian Faulks born 20th April 1953.

    Mike Engleby has a secret… 

    This is the story of Mike Engleby, a working-class boy who wins a place at an esteemed English university. But with the disappearance of Jennifer, the undergraduate Engleby admires from afar, the story turns into a mystery of gripping power. Sebastian Faulks’s new novel is a bolt from the blue, unlike anything he has ever written before: contemporary, demotic, heart-wrenching – and funny, in the deepest shade of black.

    Before embarking on this novel I read some reviews. One in particular got me scared….’unreliable narrator‘ and ‘not much happens.’ Uh oh. I have to say that I loathe an unreliable narrator. To trek through a book believing one thing and then to be told that you were wrong at the end is so frustrating. It’s almost like the author is having a laugh at your expense. I want to go on a journey with a book. I want to hold hands with a book for the duration of my reading and not to be told at the end ‘ha! Everything you thought was wrong.’ The comment ‘nothing happens’ also got me slightly worried. I need a book to hook me!

    Anyway, surprisingly I LOVED it. I found it moving, poignant, amusing, dark and interesting. It held my attention throughout although I have to admit that I preferred the second half of the novel. The bullying scenes and Engleby‘s resignation to his fate was excruciating. Faulks writes beautifully and I thought Engleby was a really believable character .

    • A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold. 4⭐️.
    • Columbine shooting 20th April 1999.

    On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives. 

    For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently? 

    These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In A Mother’s Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health experts. 

    Filled with hard-won wisdom and compassion, A Mother’s Reckoning is a powerful and haunting book that sheds light on one of the most pressing issues of our time. And with fresh wounds from the recent Newtown and Charleston shootings, never has the need for understanding been more urgent. 

    All author profits from the book will be donated to research and to charitable organizations focusing on mental health issues.

    Each time I start trying to put my thoughts down about this book, I delete the line I have just written. It sounds melodramatic but my head is in complete turmoil. I decided to look through other reviews on Goodreads and I have to say I agree with a lot of them even though many are contradictory. I have also watched documentaries to try to help myself make sense of something which seems utterly senseless. I think this is the first point of controversy. Should Sue Klebold try to make sense of such a senseless act? Is she trying to excuse her son’s actions. By writing this book is she disrespecting the memory of the 13 people who died and the 24 people who were injured? If my child had been gunned down in school would I want to read why it might have happened???? Reading why doesn’t change the outcome!! However, if my child, the child I had raised, looked after when ill, wiped away tears when they were sad, laughed at their jokes and supported their dreams did something like this, as a mother, I would look for reasons to try to make sense of it all. I think that is human nature.

    I went completely numb as detailed information about the massacre rained down on us. It was like a documentary so violent and depraved that I would never, ever under ordinary circumstances, have watched it.

    A single fact had emerged, without any ambiguity at all: Dylan had done this thing.

    The event had been planned a long time in advance, and Dylan had participated in the planning. The attack had been carefully times and strategically constructed. Dylan had deliberately killed and injured people. He has derided them as they begged for their lives. He had used racist, hateful language. He had not shown mercy, regret, or conscience. He had shot a teacher. He had killed children in cold blood.

    I was, and will always be, haunted by how those lives ended.

    For Sue Klebold, her husband Tom and her son Byron, I am desperately sad. They are mourning the death of Dylan whilst coming to terms with the fact that he wasn’t the son they thought he was. How do you deal with thoughts like these? I guess the answer is that you don’t. You spend the rest of your life knowing that your son is dead and he is responsible for gunning down innocent people. In writing this book, Sue isn’t trying to excuse the act. At no point do I feel that she tries to get the reader to empathise with her son.

    On reading this memoir, I looked back on my behaviour as a teen. I went to a highly academic girls school in which I never felt comfortable. I wasn’t clever enough. I carved my niche by being the joker and as a result, the teachers thought I was a trouble maker. Looking back on it, I was probably a nightmare to teach but I remember feeling very isolated and misunderstood during my teenage years. I desperately wanted to fit in and if I wasn’t allowed to do things that my friends were able to, I would lie. My behaviour was out of control and I did some things I am ashamed of. As someone who has struggled with depression my whole life, I can say that without a doubt it started at this school. Did my parents notice? I mean they were up at the school frequently, discussing my behaviour with teachers but I don’t think they really saw how depressed I was, partly because no one including myself realised how depressed I was. With depression, you don’t wake up one morning, having had a personality transplant and being in the depths of despair. It is a gradual thing. Sometimes so gradual that you don’t notice it creeping up on you. Your depression becomes part of your personality. Teenage depression must be a nightmare to diagnose. When do you decide that a hormonal outburst isn’t something more sinister? Luckily for me, I was struck down with glandular fever which took me out of school for a few months. I say luckily because I was absent for so long that I had to repeat my year. The thought of doing this at the same bitchy girls school was impossible so I went to another school. This new school was less academic and more arts based. Without a doubt, if I hadn’t changed school I would never now be an opera singer. Incidentally, it was at this school that my depression was diagnosed.

    So what has this got to do with Dylan Klebold? I don’t think I would ever have gotten to the point where I walked into a school with a fire arm BUT I was on a very destructive path. Probably due to sad stories like these, I feel schools are much more aware of mental health. In fact my 5 year old often tells me that she needs some “me time.” 🤣 I laugh but surely this can only be a good thing. I hope that now, 20 years on from this awful massacre, that parents and teachers are more aware of the mental health issues that affect kids. I also hope that nowadays, that individuals feel more proactive to seek help when they feel they are having a mental health issue.

    As a parent, this is a particularly hard book to get your head around. I guess when the unthinkable happens, society looks for reasons and for someone to blame. No one picked up the signs that these boys were so damaged and dangerous so was this whole disaster a dreadful combination of ignorance about mental health issues and the ease by which these boys acquired guns? I don’t think we will ever know the answer but I applaud Sue Klebold for writing this book and making me question the unthinkable.

    • The Five by Hallie Rubenhold. 5⭐️.

    Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. 

    What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. 

    Their murderer was never identified, but the name created for him by the press has become far more famous than any of these five women. 

    Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, historian Hallie Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, and gives these women back their stories.

    When I look back on the month of April, Jack The Ripper is a name that has come up a lot. At work we opened Jack The Ripper:The Women of Whitechapel, I listened to this great book by Hallie Rubenhold, I bought it for a few friends and I also watched that documentary with Emilia Fox. I have to say, I thought the documentary was pants…..wondering around Whitechapel with your iPad…it was just really pretentious.

    Our production wasn’t about Jack. In fact ‘Jack’ never appeared but was always an ominous presence. The set was coffins hollowed out on the floor. We sang ‘Fourpence a coffin, or tuppence a rope. A penny will buy you a blanket.’ In the 1800s, homeless paupers would save their pennies to sleep in a ‘coffin’ in a doss house. If you didn’t have the money for a coffin you could pay to sit on a bench with a rope stretched in front of you, so you had something to lean on. It was information like this that I swallowed up when reading the book by Hallie Rubenhold.

    The Five isn’t about the Ripper. If you are interested in social history, pick it up now. Rubenhold tells each woman’s story….their falls from grace, living in poverty with children to feed, moving from one abusive relationship to the other and their daily lives on the streets of London. A completely brilliant and desperately sad read.

    That’s all folks. Thanks for reading. See you next month.

    April Kids Reads

    Yay, the end of April. This is where I finally get off the hamster wheel and stop work. Baby not due for a few weeks so I am looking forward to cosy nights in and reading….not very rock and roll. I finished last week and had big plans of reading fab books with the girls. Disappointingly, we have read Stick Man EVERY night. Last night, I attempted a bit of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was going well and even provoked a few laughs. However, as soon as we got to a couple of pages with no pictures, the interest stopped. I find myself turning the pages dreading being faced with no pictures. Not to be discouraged I have decided to let them choose a book each night but also mummy gets a choice. Yes, it makes storytime longer but it also means that Stick Man is diluted a little. I would like to add that I do love Stick Man….just not EVERY night.

    • Hans Christian Anderson born 2nd April 1805.

    One of my favourite films as a child was Hans Christian Anderson with the great Danny Kaye. I remember feeling so, so sorry for the poor cobbler who seemed ostracised by parents in the village for being a storyteller. I found the film almost painful to watch, particularly the part where Anderson tells the story of the Ugly Duckling to the little boy who is bullied for having no hair. Writing this now, it’s strikes me as quite a strange choice for a 7/8 year old child to take to heart so much.

    Growing up, I remember thinking that Anderson was a cobbler who fell in love with a ballerina in Copenhagen. In fact, the real life of the author is nothing like my beloved Danny Kaye film.

    Anderson was the only child born to parents in Odense in Denmark in 1805. As a young child, he was sent to a poor school where he became an apprentice to a weaver. At the age of 14, he moved to Copenhagen. His beautiful soprano voice earned him entry into the Royal Danish Theatre where he had aspirations of becoming an actor. When his voice broke, he decided to dedicate himself to poetry and writing. Anderson’s initial fairytales were revisions of stories he had heard as a child. They were heavily influenced by Christianity and on initial publication, sold poorly. 1845 was a breakthrough year for Anderson as his fairytales were published in 4 different translations.

    So what of Anderson’s legacy?? Disney films, songs, paintings etc. Edie is currently obsessed with the Don Bluth film of Thumbelina and she really enjoys the original story. For those who love the Disney version of The Little Mermaid, the Anderson tale is much darker. No reggae singing crabs here. Instead we have tongues being cut out and the Mermaid feeling like daggers are cutting her legs when she walks. It’s dark guys. Needless to say, it satisfied Edie’s blood lust and is now her story of choice. 😱😱😱🤣🤣

    • I want my Tooth by Tony Ross.

    Major Event in the Andrews household!!! Edie finally lost her first of about 5 wobbly teeth. She was utterly overjoyed. I seem to remember being a little freaked out when it happened to me, but not Edie Mae, no, she views it as a coming of age rite of passage. 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️. We read this book to celebrate. Whatever lengths I go to, to introduce my children to new books, they always find returning to the likes of The Little Princess and Peppa really comforting. I also quite enjoy these books as I can work on my Julian Clary and Jane Horrocks impressions. Clary is seriously hard to get right however!

    • Nothing can frighten a bear by Elizabeth Dale.

    Daddy Bear insists that nothing can frighten a bear – but when there’s a noise in the night, Baby Bear isn’t convinced. The bears set out to make sure there aren’t any monsters but, as they vanish one by one, it looks like Daddy Bear might not be so brave after all!

    We took this book out of the library a couple of weeks ago and the children loved it so much that I had to buy a copy. Firstly I need to say that there is nothing scary about this book so don’t worry about bad dreams. The end is brilliant. The rhymes are great and each rhyme is concluded on the page turn so both Edie and Ceci enjoyed guessing the word. I thought maybe it would be a bit young for Edie (6) but I think she enjoys it more than her sister.

    Right next month there will be more books….promise!!!!! If not I will write a very in-depth discussion about Stick Man.

    Thanks for reading.