Monthly Archives: January 2018

Hull Has A Banksy!

Hey Loves!

I hope you’re all well and have had a restful weekend. This week brought some quite astounding news to my attention. You may have heard that Hull has its very own Banksy mural. I can’t believe it!! I have been away this weekend so had to patiently wait until this evening to see it.

It didn’t disappoint. I was absolutely blown away by it. It’s so unexpected, so unique. I’m honoured to have seen it. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life. It felt like a time stopping moment. The more I looked, the more I saw; the more it meant.

As well as the art, I love the mystery that surrounds Banksy. I think that’s quite special. I’m happy to not know who he is. I like that veil to his character. That way, the art speaks for itself.

To some this may just be more graffiti. However, it’s brought many people out to see it. Who knew a disused bridge could be so popular?! I hope it’s preserved and cherished forever. Yet, the barriers haven’t been a welcomed asset.

Another unique element brought to the City of Culture, and I’ve seen it! I can’t quite believe it. Head down there and see it. You won’t be disappointed. It’s quite a feeling to have something so amazing on your doorstep.

It appears that whilst I was writing this, the mural has been destroyed.Absolutely devastated. Thank goodness I, and so many others, got to see it before this happened.

Update!! It appears that work has been done to rescue it. Thank goodness!! It’s just so amazing. We need to preserve it forever. We are lucky Banksy chose Hull after all.

Big love xx

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Filed under Banksy, City of Culture, Photography

1000 Followers!

Hey Lovelies!!

I hope you’re all well and having a productive week. I was working away today when I noticed the following notification:

I’m genuinely gobsmacked! I can’t quite believe it nor can I really understand it. However, I am truly grateful. I’ve met some amazing bloggers here. It’s a community I feel privileged to be a small part of.

Some of you fabulous people have been with me since day one when I really had no idea what I was doing. I just posted about random books and places I’d visited, almost like an open memory book. The acceptance and the support is really humbling.

To my first followers and those who are always so active, thank you for being patient when I disappear, for recognising my returns and letting me know that it’s ok when life gets in the way. To my newbie followers, thanks for joining and spending time here. I hope we become wonderful blogging pals. To those I’m yet to meet, I look forward to making your acquaintance.

Without sounding like a broken record, thank you. To celebrate I bought myself this amazing unicorn mug. (Ignore the end-of-work hair and tired eyes!)

Big love xxx

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Filed under Blog, Follows

A Winter’s Stroll

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well and keeping warm in this biting weather! Whilst it’s snowing outside, I’m sat here feeling quite grateful. Yesterday I managed to have a lovely walk around the grounds of Nostell Priory. It was one of those days where it’s crisp and fresh but the sun was peeking out behind the clouds. The complete opposite to today’s weather it seems!

It all sounds rather romantic. However, I’m a firm believer in needing beautiful scenery, fresh air and the opportunity to step back and recharge yourself. This was my opportunity to do just that.

I find being by water particularly calming and this was no different. It was quite nice seeing the ice sporadically spread across the ice. I also loved seeing the ducks and swans gracefully mooching across the lake.

Another thing I spotted was the vast variety of birds and squirrels. It all just felt rather tranquil. I’m embracing the thought that winter is nearly over and spring is surely on its way. The snowdrops were starting to make an appearance; surely a sign that spring is approaching us.

I wanted to share this with you because I wish that you all have a moment to yourselves to enjoy the simple things, to recharge, as I have. Blow those cobwebs away and breathe it all in. I feel recharged and ready for the next week ahead.

Big love xxx

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Filed under Days Out, Exploring, National Trust, Photography, Places, Seasons

This Is Going To Hurt – Adam Kay

Hi Everyone!

I hope January is treating you well and the new year has got off to a splendid start. Today I want to share with you a book that I absolutely loved for so many reasons. The book: This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay.

I read this book because (without going into too much detail) I spent a lot of time over the Christmas and New Year period going backwards and forwards from hospital. I saw first hand the staff who after 12 hours were still there, with a smile looking after a small armies worth of patients. I felt for them, wholeheartedly.

Adam Kay was a junior doctor for 6 years. This book is essentially made up of his diaries from 2004 to 2010. Whilst it’s incredibly witty, it does show the extraordinary work of the NHS. There’s also tears along the way too.

 

What’s it all about?

This book shows us the journey from being a teen, choosing your life career to the time when Kay decided that enough was enough. This first hand account of the daily grind at the NHS shows exactly what happens on the front line every single day.

“Reading back, it felt extreme and unreasonable in terms of what was expected of me, but at the time I’d just accepted it as part of the job.”

Rather than spoiling a number of the anecdotes here, I wanted to share with you just a few of my favourites. The first is when Kay experienced his first ‘degloving’ injury. An eighteen year old patient was out celebrating (who hasn’t been out and done something we regret the next morning?!) when he decided to take a shorter route home, via a lamp post. Naturally, there were some injuries to the penis which made my eyes water!

“It brought to mind a remnant of spaghetti stuck to the bottom of the bowl by a smear of tomato sauce… when asked if the penis could be ‘regloved’…Mr Binns, the consultant, calmly explained that the ‘glove’ was spread evenly up eight foot of lamp post in West London.”

However, it is the reality of the situation that stands out, arguably more, than the stories from the wards. In an entry from Christmas Day, Kay reveals how he has overslept in his car. The hours are long, the patients often challenging and doctors are usually exhausted.

“It takes me a while to establish where I am or why. Good news: it seems I fell asleep in my car after my shift last night and I’m already at work, in the hospital car park.”

Another hilarious anecdote that I enjoyed in this book was about car parking. As you may be aware, hospital car parks are incredibly expensive. However, Kay reveals that there is no staff car parking due to a health initiative. Therefore, to save himself a longer commute, he uses the visitors car park.

“Today, however, the jig is up: my car has a clamp and a £120 fine for removal jammed under the windscreen wiper…The parking attendant has scrawled on the back, Long fucking labour, pal.”

The diaries are funny and honest and yet sometimes completely unbelievable. The following anecdote made me laugh and cry. Kay remarks on how patients seem to enjoy placing various objects into different areas of the body.

“Christmas in particular has rewarded me well, with a stuck fairy (‘Do you want it back?’ ‘Yeah, bit of a rinse and she’ll be grand,’ a grossly swollen vulva from a mistletoe contact allergy and mild vaginal burns from a patient stuffing a string of lights inside and turning them on.”

As we progress to the end of the book, the laughs end too. Kay reflects on his time as a doctor. The difficult outcomes and the reality of the situation that every single day our doctors are faced with life or death decisions. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things still go wrong.

“If you’re going to survive working in his profession, you have to convince yourself these horrors are part of your job. You can’t pay any attention to the man behind the curtain – your own sanity relies on it.”

 

Overview:

I loved this book. It’s honest, compelling and heartbreakingly sad at times. I feel it does show the complete picture of our NHS. I have a lot of respect for them. The majority are excellent and care for their patients. I appreciated the letter at the end of the book to the Secretary of State. It’s honest and real and this is why this book is brilliant. I urge you all to read it.

Big love xxx

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Filed under Book review, NHS

RTY: Safe Haven – Nicholas Sparks

Hey Everyone!

Day four of January 2018 and I’ve read two books. I’m quite pleased with this progress but I am well aware my holiday is nearly over. However, I’m reading as much as I can before reality hits!

You may have seen a previous post about the Read The Year Challenge. The focus for January was: start the year with a book about new beginnings. Thanks so much to the lovely Kim at By Hook Or By Book for suggesting this book to me!

 

What’s it all about?

Safe Haven centres around the protagonist, Katie. At the start of the novel she is Erin, a wife who is fleeing in a violent marriage. Kevin is an alcoholic and usually ends up beating her. Erin decided enough was enough and ran away.

“Everyone has a past, but that’s just it–it’s in the past. You can learn from it, but you can’t change it.”

When she arrived in a small North Carolina town, Southport, she appears to be twitchy, afraid and constantly looking over her shoulder. She absolutely does not wish to form any ties or relationships with people. Despite this, she becomes friends with her next door neighbour, Jo and Alex, the owner of the local store. Alex is widowed with two young children and over time goes out of his way to be kind to Katie, stocking up with produce she likes and discussing literature together. Katie was instantly attracted to him. I have to agree, he sounds like a true gent!

“She wasnt exactly sure when it happened. Or even when it started. All she knew for sure was that right here and now, she was falling hard and she could only pray that he was feeling the same way.”

Slowly, Katie begins to let down her guard, helped by an unfortunate fishing incident with Alex’s little boy, Josh. Katie begins to feel closer and closer to Alex and his family. But Katie is trapped by a secret. As time goes by, and Katie and Alex get closer, she reveals her past: the abuse, beatings and fear. Katie firmly believes that if Kevin ever finds her, he will kill her. So to protect herself she created a new identity, or borrowed one based on a dead daughter of her neighbour. After all, they did look fairly similar.

“I’ve come to believe that in everyone’s life, there’s one undeniable moment of change, a set of circumstances that suddenly alters everything.”

Whilst Katie tries to rebuild a new life, the one she’s left behind is raging. Kevin is angry and is drinking more and more. He’s obsessed with Erin and by a stroke of (arguable) luck, works out that she’s got a new identity and searched for her. Eventually he traces her back to Southport via a new drivers licence Katie had recently obtained. He tracks her down and sees that she is with Alex and his two children at the carnival. Katie has a sense of something being wrong, but can’t quite put her finger on it.

“…nothing wonderful lasted forever. Joy was as fleeting as a shooting star that crossed the evening sky, ready to blink out at any moment.”

Kevin decides he is going to kill his wife and her new lover by setting the house on fire. Katie gets the children, Josh and Kristin out safely. Her natural motherly instincts kick in. Kevin attacks Katie, kicking and punching her. For the first time, she fights back whilst the children run for help.

Alex finds his children and takes them to Katie’s house. He goes back to his home and finds Kevin attacking Katie. Kevin pulls his gun but Alex drives his car at him, breaking every bone in his hand. The gun falls to the ground.

Katie is terrified that Kevin is going to hurt the children. They race to her house to find Kevin trying to break in. However, he is unstable: alcohol and blood loss isn’t helping! Yet, he is able to hit Alex with a crowbar, pulling a gun on Katie. As Kevin and Alex fight, the gun fires. Kevin is dead.

“…because the past was always around her and might return at any time. It prowled the world searching for her, and she knew it was growing angrier at every passing day.”

As time passes injuries heal and relationships start to recover. Amazingly, a safe is recovered from the fire. Inside it held personal documents and memories from Alex’s late wife, Carly, one of which is an unopened letter. He gives it to Katie asking her to read it.

When she returns home she is shocked to find that Jo’s house looked abandoned. Katie reads the letter and notices it is signed by Carly Jo. It dawns on Katie that her friend Jo was actually the spirit of Carly, watching over Alex, making sure he found happiness.

The letter is possibly the most emotional part of the novel. She asks Katie to look after Alex and their children, to love them and be the mother she cannot be. Once she’s finished the letter, Katie notices lights in Jo’s house and sees her waving from the window. Yet when she looks again, she’s gone. It looks abandoned once again. The novel ends with Katie and Alex ready to start their news lives together.

“Deep in her heart, she wasn’t sure she deserved to be happy, nor did she believe that she was worthy of someone who seemed…normal.”

 

Overview

This novel kept me absolutely hooked. I felt happiness, sadness, worry, fear and relief. It came over me in waves. The description of the beatings were horribly realistic, almost harrowing. I automatically fell in love with Alex, he’s the perfect guy. I wanted Katie to have a good life. I actively wanted them both to be happy. The sensitive writing and portrayal of Jo was really beautiful. It was the best way to end this novel.

Time to turn my attention to next month. February – Get stuck into a story of obsessive love. I’m looking forward to this. After all, February is the month of love! I’m surprised I’ve got January’s read – 11 months to go!

Big love all xx

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Filed under Book review, Read The Year Challenge, Reading

2018!

Hi Everyone!

First of all, I wanted to share this amazing photo of one of my trees at home in the snow. It’s really pretty! Thankfully the snow is just about gone now.

Secondly, and most importantly, Happy New Year! 2018. Blimey. Where is the time going?! Today is the start of another new chapter for us all and I can only but ponder what is in store for us all.

I thought I’d kick the new year off with a new post about what my aims and hopes are for this year. But what are they? I’ve really no idea.

It’s easier for me to turn my attention to reading. Last year I managed to read 36 books. I was a tad disappointed but it gives me something to aim for in 2018!

The books were as follows:

Asher, Jay 13 Reasons Why
Behrendt, Greg & Tuccillo, Liz He’s Just Not That Into You
Bell, Alex The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club
Butland, Stephanie Lost For Words
Coelho, Paulo Eleven Minutes
Dickens, Charles A Christmas Carol
Doughty, Louise Apple Tree Yard
Dyer, Geoff Paris Trance
Emmerson, Miranda Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars
Foer, Johnathan Safran Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Galgut, Damon In A Strange Room
Hawkins, Paula Into the Water
Hislop, Victoria Cartes Postales from Greece
Honeyman, Gail Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Jansson, Tove The Summer Book
Kemmerer, Brigid Letters to the Lost
Kinsella, Sophie My Not So Perfect Life
Levy, Deborah Hot Milk
Loos, Anita Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Mackintosh, Claire I See You
Makis, Eve The Spice Box Letters
Minghella, Anthony The English Patient
Priestley, J.B An Inspector Calls
Pritcher, Annabel Ketchup Clouds
Sachar, Louis Holes
Seskis, Tina One Step Too Far
Shakespeare, William Macbeth
Sheffield, Jack Dear Teacher
Stevenson, Robert Louis The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Swindles, Robert Stone Cold
Thompson, Lisa The Goldfish Boy
Wax, Ruby The Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled
Wilde, Oscar Salome
Wilde, Oscar Only Dull People Are Brilliant at Breakfast
Wilde, Oscar The Ballad of Reading Gaol
Woodfine, Katherine The Painted Dragon

Some of these books I teach so I read them again and again. Nevertheless, I’m really excited about the Read The Year Challenge. I like to learn new things and this is perfect for that, to find new writers and genres. It’s easy to stick to what you know; it becomes a sort of comfy blanket really.

I hope you guys continue to follow my journey. I’ve met some amazing people on here and would love that to continue. I’m going to try and be a bit more regular on here. I know I’ve said that a lot but it’s important to me. So fingers crossed you’ll be hearing and seeing more from me. It seems a good time to say…

January 1st 2018: this is me. I have many flaws, I don’t get to read as much as I’d like, I live to work and I miss amazing posts from people here. But, I am me.

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The last thing I’d like to leave you with is the message I got inside my fortune cookie last night. I wanted to share it with you all because we all face challenges and have hurdles we have to cross. It’s easy to forget sometimes.

So to my amazing blogging family, I hope you have the best 2018. You all deserve it.

Big love xxx

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Filed under New Year