July Beauty

Ooooooh I am feeling the need for a good old pamper this month! Sleep deprivation thanks to a newborn is making me look a little like a zombie. I am also constantly covered in vom or puke….not my own. Sadly, I am too tired to care.

  • L’Oreal Absolut Repair Lipidum Masque. Β£16.05 for 500 Ml.

Yes the hair saga continues. During pregnancy my hair was a bit nuts. Not so much the texture (it was a little drier than usual) but the colour went mental. Yes, yes the blonde moaner again!! πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ. You know as a blonde when your mascara wand slips and you paint a bit of your hair by mistake???? Yes so I had a completely random black streak….black….in blonde hair. Also whenI got my hair coloured a few weeks ago, by the first hair wash I already had roots!!!!! WTF!?!? So my remedy, wash it less (yuk) and condition it really well. This deep conditioner is so gorgeous. I am a texture fanatic and it’s like smearing your hair with a Greek yogurt or custard! So thick, gloopy and yellow. It also only needs to be on for 5 minutes which is a bonus if you are pushed for time. As always there is a jargon word ‘lipidium.’ So ‘lipidium’ is a combo of lactic Acid, phyto-keratin and ceramides that when combined apparently ‘form a barrier film on hair to lock in actives and essential nutrients, which coats hair against new aggressors.’ πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈNo one has time for aggressors!!!! Anyway all I know is…it feels lush, smells lush, lasts ages and works so buy it. Aggressors be gone! πŸ˜‚

  • Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Face Mist. Β£28.00.

This is the brand that you will have seen all over Instagram. It is very easy to take a beautiful pic of Herbivore products because quite simply, they look lush.

This facial spritz contains coconut water to hydrate πŸ₯₯ , hibiscus flower to even your skin tone, rose to reduce redness 🌹, witch hazel to tighten and aloe Vera to heal and soothe. It’s totally gorgeous when it’s straight out the fridge and applied liberally to a sweaty face and it works a treat after applying makeup to fix it in place and to give a slightly dewy look. It also smells beautiful. I have to say however, it’s pretty punchy price wise and as much as it’s a lovely product, I’m sure I could find something just as good but a little cheaper.

  • Herbivore Emerald Moisture Glow Oil. Β£42.00.

Herbivore products really do get massive dressing table points. How lush do they look?!?!?!??

Facial oil is something I cannot and won’t do without. I think it is my way of apologising to my skin for using Oxy10 as a moisturiser in my teenage years. 😱😱😱😱😱

Let’s talk about cannabis. Recently it has become a bit of a buzz word in the beauty industry. I have to say that I was initially put off. It takes me right back to my student days of sitting in manky bedrooms eating dodgy takeaways while the stench of weed covered our hair, clothes and chicken with cashew nuts. Rank! Beauty manufacturers have extracted the non psychoactive (so not the bits that make you feel like a student again) elements of cannabis to provide a ton of good stuff to your skin. So what can it do????Right, got your clipboard ready????CBD is anti aging, helps to prevent acne, treats psoriasis and eczema, and is rich in omega 3,6,9 .

I haven’t been bothering with make up much this month so have been wearing it am and pm and enjoying the glow it gives me. If I was going to put on make up, I wouldn’t use the oil as it does take a while to sink in. Apart from a MAHOOSIVE mozzie bite on my face (thanks to an evening walk in the woods) my skin is spot free and looking pretty good considering I am so cream crackered!

Looking forward to August’s post. I am trialing a new face oil and a hair mask which I can already tell you isn’t a patch on the one above!!!

Thank you for reading.

July Reads

Well I have to say I am pretty chuffed with this months reading. I feel I got through a decent amount. The majority of reading happened before baby Maisie arrived and the other 2 girls were still in school and nursery. Since Maisie’s arrival, I think I have read a grand total of about 2 pages a day of Pachinko which pains me as I have been looking forward to reading it for ages but I just can’t keep my eyes open at the end of the day. Having said that, a less enjoyable book I would have kicked to the curb so that is a positive.

  • Still Life by Louise Penny. 4⭐️.
  • Louise Penny born 1st July 1958.

The award-winning first novel from worldwide phenomenon Louise Penny.

The discovery of a dead body in the woods on Thanksgiving Weekend brings Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his colleagues from the Surete du Quebec to a small village in the Eastern Townships. Gamache cannot understand why anyone would want to deliberately kill well-loved artist Jane Neal, especially any of the residents of Three Pines – a place so free from crime it doesn’t even have its own police force.

But Gamache knows that evil is lurking somewhere behind the white picket fences and that, if he watches closely enough, Three Pines will start to give up its dark secrets .

Happy Birthday to Louise Penny born on 1st July 1958 which is also Canada Day. πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ πŸŽ‚πŸŽˆπŸŽ‚πŸŽˆπŸŽ‚πŸŽˆπŸŽ‚πŸŽˆπŸŽ‚ I finally picked up this book after frequent recommendations on my favourite bookish podcast @whatshouldireadnext. If you enjoy reading you should definitely check it out. Each week a guest talks about their three favourite books, one book they disliked and what they are currently reading. The host, Anne Bogle then gives them three recommendations. I really enjoy it as does my Amazon account.

So, onto Louise Penny. Can a murder mystery be comforting??? According to Hilary Clinton, Penny’s books gave her solace after her election defeat. I understand what she means. This was a really comforting read and according to google, there are still 19 I haven’t read!!!!πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ Inspector Gamache is actually a nice guy. He is happily married. He (so far) doesn’t seem dark and twisty with a substance abuse problem and skeletons in his closet. How refreshing! This book reminded me of the tremendous Agatha Christie. It wasn’t brutal and Penny is obviously going to take her time introducing us to the inhabitants of Three Pines. 🌲🌲🌲. If you like you murder mysteries without gore and smattered with picket fences, brioche and maple syrup, give this a whirl. 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

  • Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig. DNF.
  • Matt Haig born 3rd July 1975.

The world is messing with our minds. What if there was something we could do about it?

Looking at sleep, news, social media addiction, work and play, Matt Haig invites us to feel calmer, happier and question the habits of the digital age. This book might even change the way you spend your precious time on Earth.

Oh Matt, I am sorry to say I have given up!!!! I picked up this book after LOVING Matt Haig’s work. I adored Reasons to Stay Alive and The Humans was one of my favourite books of last year. I started it whilst lying in the bath brimming with anticipation. After 15 pages I felt a little irritated. I agree with a lot of his points….the world is going mad. We do spend to much time on social media. We are inundated with filtered images of people with perfect lives, families, jobs and bodies. I agree and I’m aware of this and I try not to let it bother me. Reading a book that constantly repeats this point left me feeling stressed, anxious and frustrated!!!! I decided that I needed to dilute my reading experience by picking up another book and reading a little of Matt every day. The other book I picked up was The Road. If you know this book you know it is a depressing read. It’s bleak. I found The Road less bleak than Matt’s. Picking up Nervous Planet made me grumpy so on page 86 I called it a day.

Matt says:

I am trying to write about the messiness of the world and the messiness of minds by writing a deliberately messy book.

It’s format is similar to Reasons To Stay Alive – short chapters, lists and musings, presumably to hold our attention in a world where we are so distracted. The point he makes is correct – modern life, the pace, the news, social media is having a direct impact on our mental health. All this I agree with. We need to take some time and regroup. My husband and I are aware of the fact that we shouldn’t sit in bed on our phones. But you know what…..sometimes, after a long day in work and an evening with the kids and the drama that ensues with bathtime, you just want to do something mindless like checking Facebook. I’m not going to feel guilty for that and it doesn’t make me in the least bit anxious. What did make me anxious was signing up to an app that constantly told me how much time I spent on my phone. I am aware, I don’t do it when my kids are around and I’m getting into the habit of leaving my phone upstairs.

The great thing about reading is that it’s so subjective. Looking on Goodreads, I am in the minority of people who didn’t get on with this book. If you are someone who struggles with anxiety, pick this up….seeing Matt express his worries may make you feel better. Also, by reading it, your mobile phone is hopefully on the bedside table and not in your hand so all is good!!!!!

  • Runaway by Alice Munro. 3⭐️.
  • Alice Munro born 10th July 1931.

The matchless Munro makes art out of everyday lives in this dazzling new collection. Here men and women of wildly different times and circumstances, their lives made vividly palpable by the nuance and empathy of Munro’s writing. Runaway is about the power and betrayals of love, about lost children, lost chances. There is pain and desolation beneath the surface, like a needle in the heart, which makes Runaway more potent and compelling than anything she has written before.

This is my second book this month which is written by a Canadian author and my second recommendation from the What Should I Read Next Podcast.

I really enjoy a short story. If I’m ever in a bit of a reading slump I find short stories so much easier to embark on as opposed to a novel. I always finish a short story compilation by asking myself is it harder to write short stories or a full novel???? When you think about books you have read that have been 5⭐️ reads, I am sure there are the odd 40 pages that didn’t work for you but you judge the book as a whole and still award it a good score. With short stories, I feel that the stakes are higher. If there are 40 pages that you dislike, that is often a whole story that left you cold. As an author you have less time to turn it around and make it right!

Right off the bat I want to apologise to Alice Munro. I read this compilation the week before my baby was born. I was grumpy, hot and not sleeping. I enjoyed it but I didn’t LOVE it. Solid 3⭐️ from me. Writing this, 3 weeks later, a lot of the stories I have forgotten. I really enjoyed Tricks, Passion and the three stories involving Juliet.

I feel in a less-sleep-deprived state I would enjoy Munro more. Maybe this isn’t her best compilation but I know I will give her more of a chance.

  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.

Yegondo, Korea 1911. A club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. But then a Christian minister offers a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife.

Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country where she has no friends and no home. Sunja’s salvation is just the beginning of her story.

This is my current read and I’m sad to say there isn’t a hope I will finish it by the end of the month! Having been a reading machine at the beginning of July, baby Maisie has turned me into a zombie who averages a paragraph a day. So far, there hasn’t been a paragraph of this book that I haven’t loved so that is promising. Review to follow next month….or the month after that…..or the month after that. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€£

  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy. 4⭐️.
  • Cormac McCarthy born July 20th 1933.

A father and his young son walk alone through burned America, heading slowly for the coast. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. They have nothing but a pistol to defend themselves against the men who stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food – and eachother.

This book has been sat on my shelf for years! I have suggested it as a read for numerous book clubs and it has always been turned down on account of the ‘depressing’ factor. OK, yes. It certainly wasn’t a laugh a minute….I mean I don’t think I laughed once but obviously that is not the point of this book. There are pretty much only two characters, minimal fast-paced action sequences but I honestly could not stop reading. I LOVED this book. The writing was beautiful in an utterly unpretentious way. No long, flowery sentences for McCarthy, but quite simplistic prose that only emphasised the stark simplicity of the story….a father and a son’s struggle to live.

The word struggle is how I would describe this book. The imagery of trudging through all weather – shoes breaking, clothes sodden, starving, pushing a shopping trolley with all your worldly possessions and for what? To get to the coast and for what? What will you do when you arrive? As a reader, it is impossible not to be moved and feel complete pity for their hopeless plight. Brilliant, beautiful, moving book.

  • Educated by Tara Westover.

Tara Westover and her family grew up preparing for the End of Days but, according to the government, she didn’t exist. She hasn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she never set foot in a classroom, an no medical records because her father didn’t believe in hospitals.

As she grew older, her father became more radical and her brother more violent. At sixteen, Tara knew she would have to leave home. In doing so she discovered both the transformative power of education, and the price she had to pay for it.

Educated was this month’s bookclub choice. Unfortunately I am not going to the meeting due to the new baby but I know that it will be one of those meetings where everyone says how much they loved the book. This is our first non-fiction/memoir and at first there was a fair bit of resistance to it. However, even those who come to book club to read the Russian Classics enjoyed this. Maybe there are some similarities….Educated is certainly not short of heart wrenching passages but I love the fact that Westover writes without a hint of melodrama.

Westover is without a doubt a great female role model. Her resilience and strength she shows not only when faced with her physically and mentally abusive family but also with regards to her education is mind blowing. Westover is undoubtably a victim but this isn’t a ‘pity me’ memoir. What Westover has achieved is empowering.

Thank you for bearing with me this month. As I say I am a little sleep deprived but very happy.

See you next month.

July Kids Reads

Well July has been a crazy month. Maisie was born on the 3rd….thankfully I didn’t have to wait until I was 41 weeks. I am so relieved that she is finally here. The past 38 weeks were full of anxiety that I would be told those fateful words again….’I’m sorry but it’s not good news.’ I think the pessimist in me was always preparing myself to hear those words so when Maisie was born I was quite shocked. Ceci and Edie are being brilliant big sisters. Very hands on….VERY!!πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ. I have to say that I’m slightly daunted by 6 weeks of summer holidays with 3 kids buy hey ‘Go hard or go home.’

  • Heidi by Johanna Spyri
  • Johanna Spyri died 7th July 1901.

I remember having a VHS tape with the Shirley Temple film of Heidi. It was black and white and I thought it was mega dull. I mean black and white?!?!? I would always press fast forward to get to The Sound of Music which was also recorded on the same tape.

I have bought a few of these Usborne books for Edie. She loves them. Lovely pictures, short chapters and a simplified story. Since becoming a big big sister she has taken to reading a story to Ceci and Maisie at night. Although this adds an extra 20 minutes to the bedtime routine it is not something I want to discourage….in fact I hid outside their bedroom with my glass of wine feeling pretty proud! πŸ₯°

  • Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs by Giles Andreae and Russell Ayto.

When Flinn discovers a pirate hiding in a cupboard, it’s all aboard, me hearties, for a real live pirate adventure! But there are some mean baddies on the loose……

Will fearless Flinn be able to captain the ship and defeat the Pirate Dinosaurs?

The other day I did a post about what I look for in a children’s book. If I’m going to read it every night I appreciate a good rhyme, fun illustrations and the opportunity to indulge my inner actress with some epic voices. My lovely friend sent me these 3 books which were adored by her children. My girls LOVE them! No rhymes but brilliant pics and my Cornish Captain Stubble voice is already worthy of an Oscar…..sorry to brag. πŸ΄β€β˜ οΈ πŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈThese book are high-octane, swash buckling adventures so make sure you follow it with something suitably dull or the kids will never go to bed!!!

    Grandmas from Mars by Michelle Robinson. Illustrations by Fred Blunt.

Fred and Nell’s parents are off to a meeting. But first they tell Grandma, “Here’s what they’ll be eating. It’s school in the morning, they can’t be up late. So: homework, a bath – and in bed before eight.”

But, HANG ON, there’s something not quite right about Fred and Nell’s Grandma. In fact, she’s acting very strangely indeed. And is that a spare eyeball? A tail? A striped tongue? That’s not their grandma, it’s an ALIEN….RUUUUUUUUNNN!

Yesssssssssss! It rhymes, it’s pacy, it has opportunity for melodramatic voices and the illustrations are great. It’s a hit from the kids and more importantly from ME!!!! We love this book. Ceci (3) finds it just the right amount of scary and proudly told her Grandpa that her new favourite book is the ‘scariest thing in the world.’ It’s really not!

Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a great summer.

See you next month.

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 Β£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. Β£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. πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ 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. πŸŠπŸ‘πŸŠ. 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. πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ 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. Β£16 for 50 ml. Β£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 πŸŽƒ 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. πŸŽƒπŸπŸŽƒπŸπŸŽƒπŸπŸŽƒπŸπŸŽƒπŸπŸŽƒπŸπŸŽƒ

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

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.

β€˜β€œOh! 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.’ β€οΈπŸš‚β€οΈπŸš‚β€οΈπŸš‚β€οΈπŸš‚β€οΈπŸš‚

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).

β€œI was there,” Papa Toto said, and those magic words sent shivers down my spine. It was going to be the Wizard story. β€œDorothy 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. πŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ. So instead of pressing the issue, I read the book in bed with a nice cuppa. πŸ˜‚πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜‚The illustrations are lovely and it’s perfect for KS1 and 2 children who like me are worriers. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ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 β€˜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. πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ

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. πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ

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. πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šPlease 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. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

  • Drunk Elephant. Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser. Β£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. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ 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.

πŸ’šπŸ˜πŸ’šπŸ˜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 πŸ’šthe 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 β€˜nothing.’ This is a pretty ridiculous bad point and hard to explain unless you have had an opportunity to smell the β€˜nothing.’ The lack of perfume prevents irritation but the smell of β€˜nothing’ is quite strong. 🧐🀨😊🧐🀨😊🧐🀨😊🧐🀨🀨⭐️🀨 In conclusion, I would definitely repurchase.

  • Clairol Root Touch Up. Β£4.99.

Brilliant. School run, pouring rain, Edie tells me I look β€œjust like a man.” She then softens the harsh brutality of her comment by saying that I look like β€œthe horrid boy from the wizard film.” She means Draco. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ She isn’t talking about my youthful 11 year old skin, she means my slicked back blonde hair. πŸ‘±β€β™€οΈ πŸ‘±πŸ½ πŸ‘±β€β™‚οΈπŸ‘±β€β™‚οΈπŸ‘±πŸ½πŸ‘±β€β™€οΈπŸ‘±β€β™‚οΈπŸ‘±πŸ½πŸ‘±β€β™€οΈπŸ‘±β€β™€οΈ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 β€˜rooty.’ My hairdresser is totally brilliant but the reality is that blonde hair takes maintenance and I can’t be arsed. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ 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. Β£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. Β£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