2017 Book Challenge

This year, one of my new year’s resolutions was to read more books, so my Dad and I have decided to do this reading challenge together to get some new reading inspiration!

The list itself is fun, and we’ve both put together a list of books we plan to read in 2017. I’m going to post here all the books I have read (which I’ll update as I go along) with a short review of each book.

My first stop was a trip to Waterstones to buy some new books, as frankly, any New Year’s Resolution that involves shopping is a great idea! Continue reading

A day at the zoo

Last weekend my sister and her family came to stay, and we went to check out the Cotswold Wildlife Park – our nearby zoo, and it was BRILLIANT!

I love zoos, and getting to see lots of amazing animals, although I increasingly worry about the cruelty of animals being trapped in small cages and things. However this zoo was FANTASTIC! Tons of amazing animals and the cages and paddocks were cleverly designed so it seemed like they weren’t in cages at all.

Here we are, pretty excited about the zoo in the morning…

And still pretty excited when we were in the car on our way!

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I (heart) Pottery

I have finally achieved something I have been trying to do for years. Ever since I moved to Oxford I have been keen to find a local pottery class I could take, as I adored pottery as a child, and have been keen to take it up again ever since. All my years living overseas made that hard to do, and even when I was based in Oxford it was hard to find a class I could easily access on a weeknight, without a car etc. However I finally found one and I’m LOVING it!

Here are my first attempts at making some pinch pots and finger pots – very crap, but useful for practicing with glazes and slips etc.

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Cheese, Wine, and some delicious new recipes

This year a few things have happened to me in relation to food, resulting in some new experiments in the kitchen.

The first thing is that my palate appears to have suddenly matured, and I discovered that after 35 years of hating blue cheese, suddenly my tastebuds think it’s pretty much the best thing ever. Weird, but also delicious.

Secondly, my appreciation for red wine has suddenly soared, leaving me keen to try and taste lots of new and different red wines, in order to learn what I like (previously my only knowledge on the subject was that I liked Rioja, and all other red wines were a bit “meh”, But this is no longer the case! I also now have a fabulous book on wines which is helping me to learn and navigate the differences.

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Back to life, back to reality…

Well, it’s been almost 6 weeks since I arrived in Nairobi, and in spite of the many incredible things that I’ve seen and done since I got here, I must admit I am ready to go home now!

Partly because when you spend 6 weeks of living in a hotel, the novelty wears off rather quickly and it’s annoying needing taxis to go anywhere, not being able to cook or eat when you want etc. Also the shower in my room is rubbish so I can’t wait to get back to my lovely bath and much better shower! And my room with all my things!

It’s also because while I’ve been away, everything seems to have gone wrong with my house! My poor lodger, who has only just moved in, and who I abandoned rather suddenly to disappear off to Senegal and then Kenya, has been on her own in my house for weeks, kindly looking after the cats and keeping things ticking over, and dealing with all sorts of crises!

First, the boiler broke down, which was awful, as it was -1 degrees celcius in Oxford at the time, and the poor girl had to go without any heating or hot water for several days while I scrambled to get it fixed remotely. It was a pain to sort out, and required an awful lot of chasing and skype calls and frustrated emails! Initially they thought it was an electrical fault in the panel, which they replaced, and when that didn’t work they had to replace the PCB (whatever that is!) which required ordering in special parts. And when that was replaced they discovered a leaking pipe inside which had apparently caused all of the electrical faults, and so that had to be repaired as well!

In the end it took about a week, and will cost me about £500. But at least my poor lodger has heating and hot water again!

Then, about a week after the boiler was fixed, she texted me to say that the washing machine was leaking and had flooded the kitchen. Brilliant.  Continue reading

Becoming a mermaid…

So, although I haven’t specifically written about it on here, last year my sister was diagnosed with bowel cancer, and she and I decided to do some fundraising.

As we thought she might lose her hair during chemo, I decided to let her live vicariously through my hair instead, so after raising nearly £1,000, I went off to see my lovely hairdresser (at Vente Tsunami in Headington, Oxford in case you’re interested – they are the best!).

Me and K ready to get started – I think she was more excited about it than I was!

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The Retail Vortex

For the sake of a rug, the sofa was lost.

For the sake of the sofa the wall was lost.

For the sake of the wall, the curtains were lost….

Recently I found myself caught in the centre of a retail vortex, utterly unable to get out.

A year or so ago, I had my floors done downstairs, and replaced all that cat-piss stinking carpet with beautiful engineered oak, making the downstairs lovely and clean and cosy and inviting. However, having not actually lived in my house much over the last two years, what with being in the Philippines and Iraq, I hadn’t realised how much I would miss the warmth of carpets in the winter!

“That’s easily fixed”, thought I….. “I shall get a nice rug for the living room”.

I began the great online rug hunt, searching for the most perfect, the most fetching, the most reasonably-priced occasional rug that the internet could provide. Continue reading