Book Review: We Were On A Break by Lindsey Kelk

we-were-on-a-break

I had seen this book around (probably Red Magazine and Twitter – but those are guesses, just my usual sources of book advice) and was v keen to read it just because of the title as:

a) It’s one of the most memorable ‘Friends’ quotes ever
b) I was the other party in a ‘they were on a break’ issue back in 1999 after having a holiday dalliance (holiday ‘romance’ would be pushing it) with a guy who was ‘on a break’ from his girlfriend.  She is now his wife and mother of his children, and I am happily married with my own gaggle of children, but even 17 years on she can’t speak to me and struggles to even look at me.  #awkward

Anyway, my dealer (of books rather than any other substance) offered me a copy to take to Disneyland Paris with me – which sounded like a very good plan (anything to dilute Disney is a good plan).

Amazon appears to be scant on blurb – so this is from the back of the book (which means I actually have to type it and not cut and paste #commitment)

“There’s nothing worse than the last day of holiday. Oh wait, there is.  When what should have been a proposal turns into a break, Liv and Adam find themselves on opposite sides of the life they had mapped out.
Friends and family all think they’re crazy; Liv throws herself into work – animals are so much simpler than humans – and Adam tries to get himself out of the hole he’s dug.  But as the short break becomes a chasm, can the find a way back to each other?
More importantly, do they want to?”

Heads up – I absolutely LOVED this book from the off!  It is told from both Liv and Adam’s points of view (and this confused me the first time it switched – but there may have been wine involved) and I really liked both characters.

It is funny, well written, emotional, true to life and with really relevant reference points (I’m assuming it’s true that you’re more likely to be murdered by your Uber driver home than the internet date you’ve met in a bar?!)  The supporting cast of family and friends are great too – all very different but well fleshed out and interesting, and not predictable. In a ‘style of Bridget Jones’ you expect that David the veterinary nurse will turn out to be Liv’s gay BFF – but he most definitely isn’t (despite the Kardashian love / hate) – and one of her best friend’s Cass, is something of a ‘smug married’ but then ‘goes the full 2007 Brittany on the situation’ (which is a quote I hope to use in the near future as it’s so excellent!).

It reminded me very much of the style of Mhairi McFarlane whom I have sworn allegiance to before (and from a small amount of Twitter stalking it would appear that Ms Kelk and Ms McFarlane were recently out together with Giovanna Fletcher too #welljel #Iwanttobeintheirsquad)

The book twists and turns and keeps you interested in what is going to happen to Liv and Adam and Daniel Craig (the cat, not the actor).

I am suffering with the worst ever cough (I’m blaming Mickey Mouse for the germs and wondering if Lionel Messi is also suffering) – but the one benefit of being unable to sleep and having to sit up all bl**dy night is that I’ve been able to read this fantastic book.  I am DELIGHTED that there is a plentiful back catalogue of other books by Lindsey Kelk and proposed downloading many to my Kindle right now!

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Of Marrigeagable Age by Sharon Maas

 

of-marriageable-age

“A spellbinding story of forbidden love. Three continents, three decades, three very disparate lives:
Savitri, intuitive and charismatic, grows up among the servants of a pre-war English household in Madras. But the traditional customs of her Brahmin family clash against English upper-class prejudice, threatening her love for the privileged son of the house.
Nataraj, raised as the son of an idealistic doctor in rural South India, finds life in London heady, with girls and grass easily available… until he is summoned back home to face raw reality.
Saroj, her fire hidden by outward reserve, comes of age in Guyana, South America. When her strict, orthodox Hindu father goes one step too far she finally rebels against him… and even against her gentle, apparently docile Ma.
But Ma harbours a deep secret… one that binds these three so disparate lives and hurtles them towards a truth that could destroy their world.”

I read a previous book by Sharon Maas last year and really enjoyed it, and downloaded this not long afterwards – but it has sat on my Kindle since then, and I finally started reading it recently.

As with the Small Fortune of Dorothea Q, the previous book I’d read by this author, it’s set across multiple time periods and locations. Having friends of Indian and Guyanese heritage this really appealed – especially learning about some of the massive racial tensions there were in Guyana between different factions and religions.

It was evident early on that there were to be connections between the 3 different stories that were being told – but right until the end of the book these don’t become totally clear – and it really kept me intrigued.  I kept thinking I was so clever I had it all sussed, for there to be another twist or turn.

I enjoyed the book both as a stand alone story book of family life, love, career and choices – but also I found that I enjoyed being educated about different cultures, time periods and experiences.  It was beautifully written really evoking the different settings geographically.  India has long been on our ‘to visit’ list, and I might just have to add Guyana to that list now too!

 

 

Disneyland Paris – day 5!

Our last day in Paris – and the husband’s birthday!  He got to wear a Disney badge proclaiming this all day!!

After packing, breakfast and checking out we decided that the one thing we hadn’t done were any of the shows at Walt Disney Studios – so after a quick Fastpass on Ratatouille (yet again, it’s the youngest’s favourite!) and the magic carpets we headed to Moteur – Action!  Stunt Show Spectacular – and the name was very correct – it was really spectacular.  The 11 year old in particular really enjoyed it.

stunt-show

It was supposed to last 35 minutes – so we hoped to whizz straight from there to Disney Junior Live (run in English and French at different times).  However time was ticking by so the husband and girls tried to escape leaving me and the boy there – but the French security team were having none of it.  There was lots of Gallic shrugging – and ‘computer says no’.  I assume it was health and safety (although goodness knows why, as the way out was nowhere near the vehicles!)  Anyway – that meant we missed Disney Junior which prompted a 4 year old’s strop!

Thankfully we spotted that Stitch Live was on and so attempted to placate her with that (again it runs in English and French throughout the day).  It was actually surprisingly good!  Stitch was animated, but there was a real life person in the room being his assistant.  Initially I assumed that there were standard questions Stitch would ask – but it was actually really clever, and the person voicing him could obviously see the audience – and deviated with different conversations – and all in all it was really impressive!  A surprise hit with the Price family.

Then we let Daddy chose the restaurant – and we went to Bistro Chez Remy right by the Ratatouille ride – and supposedly the rat’s restaurant and you magically became smaller as you went in (or as the 4 year old pointed out ‘they’ve just made everything else seem really big’!!)

cork

The food – and drinks – were great!  And the whole family were content as the grown up food was delicious, and there were fries for the kids #winwin.  They made a fuss of the birthday boy – and even wrote a special message on his pudding (happy birthday – not anything else – that would have been weird!!)

On the way out the 6 year old was given a Minnie Mouse balloon by a random couple – still not entirely sure why (she was given sweets by a man on the train the day before, so she must have a face for gifts!!)  As we were about to head off to the airport we couldn’t really take it with us – so the kids asked if we could send it up to the sky to Nanny Carol (my mother in law who passed away in 2002).  It seemed like a particularly apt thing to do, given 45 years ago Nanny Carol had been giving birth to their Daddy (cue hysterical weeping from me!!)

balloon

And that’s pretty much a perfect way to end our few days in Disneyland Paris.
Creating magical memories with my family has been wonderful.

 

 

 

“Disneyland” Paris – day 4!

Actually we can drop the Disneyland today – as it was a trip out to Paris for us.

We’d arranged the trip through Disney and had to traipse across to another hotel after breakfast to be picked up on a coach.  Which was late (and we had to wait right by some very smelly, noisy building work – nice!)  The coach dropped us in the centre of Paris where we were given our tickets for the Hop On, Hope Off Big Bus.  We’d also bought tickets for The Louvre from our on coach guide (22 Euros, when it turned out they only cost 15 Euros there – but it did mean we bypassed the big queue, so I guess we can forgive him the mark up!!)  We ended up walking down to the Louvre rather than wait for the bus – and of course, once we were in there we headed for the star attraction – the Mona Lisa.

the-louvre

It’s quite a trek – and we saw lots of willies and boobs on statues and paintings on the way there, much to the children’s amusement!  We had to wait quite a while to get to the front, but did in the end – and then obviously the teenager had to apply Snapchat filters to possibly the most famous painting in the entire world……..

the-mona-lisa

Then we walked a bit more to pick up a bus – but it was along the banks of the Seine, so felt quite exciting!!  The kids all enjoyed ‘helping’ with the map reading!

map-reading

But one of the roads was shut – seemingly for no reason – but it was causing loads of traffic chaos.  There was LOTS of car horn hooting – like that was going to make any difference?!  After being stationary for about 15 minutes we decided to get off to walk some more.  The kids were not quite as keen as we were – and piggy backs / shoulder rides had to be done (I think those steps should count double on my Fitbit?!)

We then found another bus stop and got back on the route up to the Trocadero – the views down over the Eiffel Tower were amazing – and all the standard stupid poses were done by the kids as well as most other visitors!!

trocadero-jumping

Nutella crepes provided some much needed energy to carry on with the bus tour.  It took us down to the tower itself (the teenager moaned it was not shiny – somewhat reminiscent of her father moaning about the Golden Gate bridge not being golden and the Sydney Opera house looking dirty not bright white!)  We had to wait for about 20 minutes to get through security – you can’t get in without a bag search and metal detector – and there are armed police / soldiers everywhere.  We planned to go up (despite it being foggy) but didn’t think the kids would cope with the steps (and having had jelly legs after climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge I suspect I would have struggled too!!) but the queue for the lifts was about 2 hours, so we decided not to bother and do it another time (as I’m writing this I’m stressing that I said the same about the World Trade Center in New York in late 2000……)  At this point we had 90 minutes before we needed to meet the coach home (and suspected the coach out of Paris at 6pm would not be fun!) so decided to get the train back to the park after the next leg of the Big Bus.

It was less than 8 Euros for an adult, and half for the kids – and we got to go on a double decker train which was very exciting. It only took 45 minutes to get back to the train station at Disney Village – so we were back before we’d even have got on the coach in Paris.  If we ever come again (IF!) then I would definitely consider hopping on the train and going into Paris unaccompanied. #bigandbrave

As it was about time for an early tea we headed to the Rainforest Café before the hoardes (as you can’t book).  Kids were happy with nuggets and chips – adults food was very very disappointing – but hey ho!

Then back to the hotel to chill out and pack for travelling home tomorrow night.  So absolutely no Disney parks done at all today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disneyland Paris – day 3!

Day 3 started with another Messi breakfast (and again we didn’t let the 11 year old get a photo or autograph – and the pressure was starting to build from friends and family back home about what cruel parents we were)!  Thankfully there were characters galore – Gepetto, Pinocchio, Mr Smee, Pluto and the big 2 – Minnie and Mickey Mouse.  All very exciting.

mickeyminnie

Then we magic houred it into the park for the husband and big 2 to do Space Mountain whilst I took the little 2 on Buzz Lightyear.  And here comes whinge 1:

We paid 60 Euros when we arrived for all of the photos from the photographers out and about around the park and for the photos on the rides.  This has proved to be quite a rubbish investment.  In our 3 days thus far we haven’t seen a single photographer out and about!  We’d hoped for a Price family photo in front of the castle, but have had to make do with a rubbish selfie rather than a professional one.  Today on Space Mountain we had a photo taken, and it could be viewed after the ride, but the shop was shut and so it wasn’t possible to get the photo.  All seems a bit rubbish – and miss-sold.

Whilst I am in whinge mode (some would say I’ve been firmly in that mode for 42 years?!) – smoking!  People wander round the parks cigarettes – traditional and e cigs – in hand.  Theoretically there are smoking areas and the rest of the park is non smoking, but this rule does not appear to be applied at all. It truly is gross, compounded by the fact it would appear many more Europeans than Brits smoke *based on no research whatsoever, just the gut feeling I’ve got from our travels!!

Our concierge had booked lunch for us at Planet Hollywood (it seemed safer to book, as Rainforest Cafe was turn up and wait – and the only prerequisite from the kids was it was a restaurant with chips!!) But we were early and so went on Panoramamagique – a tethered balloon ride that takes you 100m up above the park.  On a clear day you can see the centre of Paris and the Eiffel Tower – but it wasn’t a clear day!  However, it did give you a feeling of the scale of the parks and the huge number of beds the hotels in the surrounding areas must provide.  The autumnal colours of the trees were also amazing.  Half of the kids were scared, the other half were trying to rock the balloon to scare them further – you’ve got to love siblings!

We popped in to the Lego shop then, which the 4 year old was excited about as the boy she loves from school is a big Lego fan – so we took her photo in front of the Toy Story characters made out of Lego to send to him!!

lego

Planet Hollywood was the same as Planet Hollywood the world over (although disappointingly no zucchini fries on the menu here!) – but the decor right down to the loos, is the same no matter which branch your in.  Anyway – there were chips, so the kids were happy.

The back to the hotel for a power nap (for Daddy anyway!) and we got to see some of the Halloween parade from our balcony.  At afternoon tea the 11 year old’s dreams came true and we let him ask Lionel Messi for a photo (when he wasn’t with his kids) – sod Mickey, this was the highlight of his holiday – possibly life to date (he had a photo with Arjen Robben last New Year’s Eve, so is doing pretty well for world famous footballers on holiday recently – apparently only Ronaldo or David Beckham will top this #pressure)!

messi

 

We headed off to the Buffalo Bill Wild West show in the evening.  You are divided into 4 teams – this time we were blue (last time we came 6 years ago we were green and after kicking around the house for the best part of 5 years, we’ve only just chucked out the hats!!)  It’s a great horse / buffalo / bison show (cue rubbish joke – what’s the difference between and buffalo and a bison???  You can’t wash your hands in a bison
(this is better if you’re from the Black Country (West Midlands rather than being racist in any way) as bison sounds more like basin then!!)

wild-west-show

My highlight is that you are told your meal deal includes a soft drink – and they offer beer to the adults #beerisasoftdrinkinFrance!! The horse show is great (and I remembered to take an antihistamine this time!!) and the children enjoyed it loads.  The ‘highlight’ was Daddy being a volunteer – so he got to go down into the arena and go in a coach and then be tied up with a woman from Liverpool (standard night out?!)

tied-up

The 6 year old was hysterical the entire time thinking Daddy was actually going to be hijacked – but in true Disney style the bad guys were defeated and all was well – phew! Quick visit to the ‘World of Disney’ en route back (shockingly badly staffed again – Paris really is the antithesis of Orlando) and then back to the hotel room for turn down chocolates, room service wine and potentially the fireworks for a third consecutive night (re-setting them each day must be a task)

Tomorrow is Disney free (yay!) as we’re off in to Paris for the day to see the sites.  I’ve never done the proper tourist thing in Paris – I did a quick driving tour once with a Deloitte partner when I was considering a transfer to the Paris office (I told him I could only come if I had red wine on tap, as it’s the only way my French is any good – it did not seem that this was impossible!  I was also a bit of a Princess and told him to slow down whilst speeding through the underpasses #PrincessDianareference!) so I am looking forward to seeing all the sites / sights – it should also minise the chance of characters being punched, and improve the quality of food on offer. #winwin

Disneyland Paris – day 2!

Day 2 of the Disneyland Paris adventure started with a character breakfast – which ended up being more exciting than expected.

This was not due to the arrival of Tigger and Eeyore – but more to do with the fact that Lionel Messi (world famous footballer) and his family were sat at the next table.  The 11 year old was beside himself, but we were killjoy parents and didn’t let him go and interrupt Mr Messi’s breakfast to get a signature or a photo – he had to make do with the Winnie the Pooh characters providing both!!

tigger

Then, as we’re staying in one of the Disney hotels we are allowed to access the Disneyland park 90 minutes before the general public, so we headed in to try and get on some rides that we couldn’t Fastpass later – Dumbo being the first one, and then the carousel.  Much fun was had.

After that the Disney classic ‘It’s A Small World’ beckoned. We then went on Pirates of the Caribbean – which starts as a similar boat ride, but then has a couple of drops like a sedate-ish log flume.  The whole ambience down there is quite scary, and the 6 year old had her head inside her Dad’s coat for the entire ride.

At that point I realised I’d left the vouchers for our Princess lunch back in our hotel room – so I had to power walk back to get them (annoying – but the silver lining was the additional steps for my Fitbit workweek hustle #competitive)  Back at the park we got the 4 year old ready for lunch in her full on Cinderella garb – her plaits even had to be replaced by a bun.  The food at Auberge de Cendrillon was amazing (although again the 6 year old refused to eat anything as it was too ‘French’ and, ironically, with no option of French fries!!  The one thing the French totally have right over the Floridians is that you can get booze in Disneyland Park whereas Magic Kingdom is dry – the Disneyland branded champagne was a great addition to the prepaid lunch!  We got to see LOADS of characters (and I didn’t punch any!).  I’m not sure if the husband seeing Ariel or the 4 year old seeing Cinderella was the most exciting?!?

ariel

cinderellas

After lunch we headed across from park 1 to park 2 – Walt Disney Studios.  Ratatouille and Slinky Dog were revisited #deepjoy.  Even kids rides make me want to hurl….

slinky-dog

Then back to the hotel for a swim in the pool.  The hotel room provides children’s bathrobes as well as adult ones – although the 4 year old was still almost drowned in hers (and she reckoned she looked like Master Shifu from Kung Foo Panda #nonDisneyreference)

spa

Due to rubbish eczema (and a hatred of swimming) I stayed in the room and did some ‘important work’ (although spent most of the time cursing the slow wifi – why can’t hotels have decent wifi?!?!?)

The final excursion of the evening was out to the Disney Village area (where the restaurants were as rude as ever).  Small toys were purchased for small girls, and I headed back to the room with them – where they had their best meal thus far (pizza and fries on room service!) and the husband and big 2 did a couple of roller coasters at the Studio Park whilst the queues were less.  Being able to park hop, and come and go to the hotel is such a massive bonus.

So day 2 has been survived.  Wondering which international superstar can be at breakfast tomorrow to make sure the big 2 can keep their Snapchat stories exciting!!!

 

 

 

 

Disneyland Paris – day 1!

So it was an early start – but the flight all went fine (apart from quite a lot of annoying kids on the flight – other people’s not my own – although they did try too!)

The first problem was our pre booked Disney driver wasn’t there to pick us up.  Now I have to say this wasn’t a huge shock as exactly the same had happened to our next door neighbours when they’d last been.  I phoned to query this and was told to get a taxi and the hotel would pick up the tab as our driver was ‘stuck in traffic’.  We had a lovely driver – who said it should only take just over half an hour as there was no traffic today!!!  He was very informative – although spoke little English – but thankfully I understood enough of the French to translate for the rest of the car.

taxi

Possibly the highlight of the car journey was when the Vanessa Paradis classic ‘Joe Le Taxi’ came on – being the only French song I know!! Reminded me of when The Proclaimers were playing in a pub in Scotland in May.  Got to love a good stereotype!!

We arrived at the hotel and were given all of the relevant passes and tickets even though our room wasn’t ready (well, after a minor confusion when they tried to check us in as the Brice family rather than Price family!)

We decided to do a bit of a recce of the Disneyland Park ready for hitting the parks hard tomorrow – but the benefit of staying in a suite in the Disneyland Hotel is that you get to permanently Fastpass the rides!  No limit of a certain number per day, or only one every 2 hours, anything that can be Fastpassed you can join the queue.  However, it would appear that MOST OF THE WORLD has Fastpasses.  I began to question whether FAST meant something different in French?  “F*cking absolutely slow thanks” was my suggestion……

We tried to order some drinks and donuts from a stand and it took about 15 minutes – again, this backs up my opinion that the French just don’t do the service levels Disney needs as well as the Floridians (I am yet to do California).

Buzz Lightyear was a hit with everyone – as always – and obviously Mummy and Daddy were the most competitive (Daddy won – boo!!!)

Then our suite was ready so we unpacked before deciding the only way we could keep everyone awake until dinner was to go out again – this time to the Walt Disney Studios.  By now it was raining – deep joy…

rain

The big 2 wanted to go on the Tower of Terror, whilst the littlest wanted to go on the Toy Soldiers parachute drop – with Mummy (oh how my day was improving!) but we survived.  Then we Fastpassed Ratatouille – which was as efficient as all previous Fastpass attempts.  The highlight of the queueing was our 6 year old’s incredulousness that the French family in the queue in front of us had 5 kids – it’s pretty rare for us to find families with more children than ours!!

Finally it was back to our hotel for dinner (although we all needed a change of clothes first as we were soaked through).  At this point the husband and I fell off the wagon – and had the first booze for a fortnight – a lovely New Zealand Sauv Blanc – but we stopped at one bottle between us (high five to us!).  We ate at the California Grill – which the concierge said was the best restaurant at DLP.  The food was exquisite – BUT – no chips, and the 6 year old was gutted by this (she is renowned for being *slightly* fussy with her eating!!) however this did lend itself to the comedy comment of the night.

Husband “Oh, I think that boy’s got chips?  Oh no, it’s actually pasta”
11 year old “You should have gone to Specsavers”
6 year old “We should have gone to McDonalds”

Aside from that it was a lovely meal (and from hearing about the food my friends’ kids have in French schools, I guess they have much broader tastes than British kids!!) but the 4 year old was asleep before her main course.

We’re back in the room now and after catching the fireworks and laser show from our balcony (which could not be a better view)

fireworks

the rest of the family are asleep, which pleases me as:

a) we have a long day planned tomorrow and
b) with them all asleep and off their devices, the wifi is much more efficient for me #priorities

So day 1 has been survived.  And as far as my plans go from my prologue:

1) No characters have been punched.
2) You can not Fastpass the ass out of the parks as the Fastpasses are not fast.
3) OK – so I’ve moaned about queuing – but I have not had any fights with anyone in a queue – as yet!
4) The food has been amazing in the hotel (but with an amazing price tag too!)
5) The rain dampened the magic – but even I thought the fireworks and laser show were great.
6) It is not possible to stay on the wagon when combining Disney, rain, European queues and hotel rooms.

Here’s to day 2……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disneyland Paris – the prologue…..

I am somewhat renowned for being a bit bah humbug when it comes to certain things – primarily Christmas and Disney!

I am also known for sucking the fun out of things for being over competitive.  There were the owls in and around Birmingham in the summer of 2014.  Way after the kids had lost interest I was still insisting we travel around the greater Birmingham area to ensure yet more inanimate objects were ticked off our master schedule (I’m still quite annoyed we didn’t see them all!)  And then there was a friends’ wedding recently where I managed to drop the f bomb in front of the entire reception.  There had been a quiz, but 3 teams had drawn and so there was a round of ‘heads and tails’ to decide who won (deciding a quiz with a game of chance somewhat rankles!)  Anyway, I’m still *almost* sure that the coin was ‘f*cking tails’ as I announced to everybody present……..

Anyway, back to the whole bah humbug about Christmas / Disney thing (which is mostly to off set the fact that my husband is obsessed with both – just imagine him in the Disney Christmas shop!)  We’re off to Disneyland Paris this half term.
Last time we went it was Christmas – so at least this time it will be Halloweened up rather than that (small mercies and all that!).
We’ve been a couple of times before.  I have just about recovered from the first time – about a decade ago – where 2 glasses of warm milk on room service cost 38 Euros!  Admittedly the exchange rate was better than the practically parity it is now – but still!
So – I’m going to try and embrace this trip.

I will:

1. Be pleasant to all characters (I almost punched “Mary Poppins” at Epcot)
2. Not stress about the order we go round the rides (although I want to Fastpass the ass out of both parks!)
3. Be patient when queuing (hey, I did queuing theory as part of my maths degree – but that isn’t about how rubbish Europeans are at the entire concept)
4. Not moan about the food (you’re in France, where amazing cuisine is prevalent, but everything available at the park is either simple carbohydrate, fried, or often both!)
5. Generally have a ‘tres’ magical time

And I plan to do all of this whilst *possibly* staying on the wagon.  We shall see.

More updates coming soon…….

[Edited to add – this would not post from Birmingham airport this morning, so we’ve already done half a day at Disney.  I have already struggled with items 3 and 5…….]

My name is Libby and I like a drink…..

champagne-bottle

My name is Libby and I like a drink!

Prosecco and gin are probably the favourites but wine (white, pink, red, green, fortified), beer, cider, spirits (except perhaps Pernod after an ‘incident’ with it at the Glen Bar at Southampton University in the early 90s that resulted in me throwing up in a soon to be boyfriend’s sink in his university room – but maybe after a quarter of a century I should try it (the Pernod, not the vomiting) again?) are all imbibed on a reasonably frequent basis.

The husband is also a fan of a post work beverage – and it had got to the point where we were drinking most nights.  I’d spoken to a GP friend about alcohol in general – and her view was you need to have at least 3 dry days/ nights a week to not have an issue – and we weren’t hitting that target.  It’s not like we were hiding vodka bottles in the airing cupboard, or needing a glass of wine to start the day – but still we knew we were drinking too much.

We’ve tried the ‘not drinking in the week’ thing – but more often than not something would crop up – bad day at work, kids being a pain, seeing friends – that would result in a bottle being cracked – and ‘the week’ would become a random Tuesday.

I’m also trying to lose some weight – and whilst my eating is fairly good, and I exercise at least 3 times a week – I have been stuck at the same weight for ages – probably due to the huge amount of empty calories in booze!  I wouldn’t dream of sitting on the sofa eating a huge box of chocolates (well, I would dream of it – but I wouldn’t do it) – but necking a bottle of wine would have a similar calorific effect.

So – last weekend we decided we’d stop drinking completely – and 7 days later we’re still going strong.  I think the fact that we’re both doing it has really helped – and the fact that the standard of non alcoholic beers and wines has dramatically improved over recent years.

My liver seems to think I’m pregnant again (which I’m not!) but some R&R for it must be very welcome.  I was rarely waking up with a hangover – but to wake up without a slight fuzziness is great.

I’ve managed to be strong willed in the pub with friends for an afternoon, at friends’ for Sunday lunch and at an 18th birthday party – as well as just at home in the evenings.  Strictly without fizz was a revelation this weekend.

I’m not sure how long this abstemiousness will last (we’re off to Disneyland Paris for half term – and the thought of Disney or French people, let alone a combination of both, without booze, does not sound tempting) – but we shall see.

And in the meantime I will be smug and teetotal.

The husband sent me a text last week saying as the alcohol free week was going ok, he thought he’d go vegan too – I think he was joking………….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Pumpkin Project by Katie Smith

I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed a children’s book on the blog before – despite having a house full of them!  However, this is a special one.  Not only did it win ITV Lorraine’s Top Tales 2016, but it was also written by the cousin of a friend of mine, Katie Smith.

Katie’s had a bit of a tough time recently, as you can read here, so when Lorraine Kelly announced Katie was the winner I had a proper weep with vicarious pride (whilst sat in the hairdressers!!)

Anyway – back to the book. Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“Lottie and her class are given an end of term project competition called Big and Small. The problem is, class show-off Penelope Pembleton-Puce always wins.
But this time, Lottie and Gramps come up with a brilliant idea: to grow a giant pumpkin!
With the help of grandad’s old vegetable growing tricks, they set about trying to break world records for the biggest vegetable ever. But this pumpkin is fussy, demanding and has a mind of its own, and with Penelope willing to do literally anything to win AGAIN, does Lottie really stand a chance?
A beautiful, heart-warming story about friendship, family, and growing confidence … as well as a large vegetable!”

 

the-pumpkin-project

I would suggest this is aimed at about 8-10 year olds – and my 6 year old is giving it a good go – but I decided to read it myself first!  So whilst the eldest was having her brace fitted at the orthodontist – I settled down to read about Lottie.

Lottie is immediately a likeable little girl, who doesn’t have the easiest of home lives, with a Mum who is more interested in her phone and chocolate than her daughter.  The story is about how she and her Grandad try and grow a huge pumpkin to beat the spoilt Penelope Pembleton-Puce who usually wins all of the school competitions.  It’s very cleverly written – and some of the jokes about wind and farting would probably go over the head of a small child – but I loved it.  I was especially proud of page 126 where Finlay Church and his collection of teddy bears featured (and Katie’s cousin has revealed there are other snippets of real life woven in to the book which is just wonderful).  The illustrations and diagrams also really add to the book – and even the chapter and page numbers are drawn in a funky way.

I won’t give too much away – but all turns out well in the end – phew!

It is a lovely, feel good children’s book, and I would definitely recommend it as a stocking filler this Christmas.

I look forward to reading this again with my littlest two, and also look forward to more books from Katie in the future.