Finding E…….

This is like Finding Nemo or Dory – but with less fish and far more stressful for us!!

The other morning we’d all ventured down to the beach at our hotel in Dubai – not something we do that often – we’re more likely to be found by the pool – but everyone (me included, in fact, me especially) had been persuaded to brave the sand!

(I also had a stress about whether the swimsuit was Roxy or Quiksilver – which, let’s face it, wasn’t exactly the most important issue right at that point – but it’s amazing what’s racing through your mind.  The husband had told me subsequently that he was thinking about having to move to a cheaper hotel if we had to stay here for months looking for her – and he calls me the drama queen!!)

The boy and I were swimming in the sea whilst the husband and daughters played on the sand.  But as we came out of the sea the husband was waving frantically.  Our 6 year old, E, had gone to wash her hands in the showers – about 50 yards from where we were camped out on the beach – but she’d not come back.  At this point she’d been missing for just less than 10 minutes.

He’d not wanted to leave the 5 year old alone on the beach, so the 13 year old had done a full check of the route to and from the showers, and then checked around the pool to see if she was there – but no luck.  She then headed up to Beit al Bahar where our villa is situated to check that E hadn’t gone back up there and to alert the staff (who started checking the CCTV immediately, they were great).

I stayed put – frantically scanning the beach – whilst the son went one way on the beach and the husband headed off to the pool area.

I remembered I’d just taken this photo – and envisaged it being shown on Sky News

evie

The boy came back and couldn’t see her on the beach towards the bridge to the Burj – so I left him in charge of his littlest sister, with strict instructions not to move in case E headed back.

I ran up the beach (apologies to anyone who witnessed that – not pretty, and I was so stressed I didn’t even put my cover up on so was just in a swimming cossie which is unheard of for me!) asking people, staff and sunbathers, if they’d seen a 6 year old on her own – no one had.  People kept telling me not to worry as it’s a really safe hotel – but all I could think of (although thankfully didn’t shout at anyone), was ‘I bet that’s what the McCanns said’.  We were actually on the Algarve 15 minutes up the coast with a daughter 6 weeks younger than Madeleine McCann when she went missing – so it’s always been closer to home than I would like.

I decided to try some of the toilets – as the 13 year old had once got locked in a cubicle there – but no sign.  However – as I came out THERE SHE WAS – walking with an enormous man!  She wasn’t crying – although there was a bit of a wobbly lip when I scooped her up – and I thanked the man profusely but then ran off to let the rest of the family know she was ok – and to stand the hotel staff down on their searches.

Turns out E had washed her hands – but walked down onto the beach in a slightly different place to where she’d walked up –  I suspect onto the private Burj Al Arab section rather than the Jumeirah Beach Executive Pool section (can’t fault her aspirations!) and got confused when she couldn’t see us.  She said she’d looked for a bit – but then found a grown up to help (we’ve had a subsequent conversation about it being a member of staff in a uniform should she need help in the future).  The man had spoken to her in a different language (and when I’d spoken to him his English was very accented – I’m guessing he was Russian?) but she’d explained where she was staying and he’d offered to walk her back.  She’d also told him she was from England, and that she was on holiday with her parents and 3 siblings – and no doubt loads more!  The poor bloke probably had his ear bent for 10 minutes. We tried to find him afterwards to buy him a beer (or maybe a vodka if my suspicions on his nationality are correct) but haven’t found him – but we are so grateful to him.

It was such a huge relief that she was ok – and so sensible (whilst the rest of the family were being completely overdramatic) – and has prompted lots of conversations with her and her siblings about what to do if you get lost in the future.

The husband and I celebrated her safe return with pots of tea (as it was before midday and so no brandy was available!) which then got sand kicked over them.  Another good reason to stick to the pool!!

tea

 

 

 

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Book Review: The Mistake I Made by Paula Daly

the-mistake-i-made

 

“We all think we know who we are.
What we’re capable of.

Roz is a single mother, a physiotherapist, a sister, a friend. She’s also desperate.
Her business has gone under, she’s crippled by debt and she’s just had to explain to her son why someone’s taken all their furniture away.
But now a stranger has made her an offer. For one night with her, he’ll pay enough to bring her back from the edge.
Roz has a choice to make.”

A friend gave me this to read just before I came away on holiday so I could bring it with me – saying it was fab – and she was not wrong!

It follows Roz in an ‘Indecent Proposal’ situation – in fact it references the film, and doesn’t shy away from it being a similar issue – which I liked.  I also really enjoyed the geeky physio references that are included when following Roz in her day job – I love learning stuff about the anatomy when I’ve had physio / am doing pilates / in PT training and in another life (where I wasn’t petrified by blood!) then I may have pursued a medical career – so this element of the book appealed to me (and the fact that the author is a trained physiotherapist means you know it has substance).

I liked Roz – despite some dodgy choices at times – and empathised with her and her situation.  I also liked her relationships with different people in the book – her son, family, ex, neighbours, work colleagues etc – it gave you a proper feeling for her as a person in all of the different roles we all have to juggle all the time.

There are lots of twists and turns to the book which keep you excited – and I particularly liked the ending which fasts forward a bit to give some ‘closure’ – but still leaves you wanting more.

I will definitely be looking out more Paula Daly books in the future.

 

 

Book Review: Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

missing-presumed

“A MISSING GIRL
Edith Hind is gone, leaving just her coat, a smear of blood and a half-open door.

A DESPERATE FAMILY
Each of her friends and relatives has a version of the truth. But none quite adds up.

A DETECTIVE AT BREAKING POINT
The press grows hungrier by the day. Can DS Manon Bradshaw fend them off, before a missing persons case becomes a murder investigation?”

I love a good thriller – and I loved this book! (Before knowing it was a Richard and Judy  bookclub book, but I still liked it!!)

It’s a crime drama – in a TV Silent Witness etc style – where the crime is the central piece, but you get to know the police involved and the family of the victim really well.

I really liked all of the characters (apart from maybe the victim) and felt their characters were really well fleshed out.

It twists and turns and keeps you interested throughout.

I felt the police protocol / investigation was true to life (in the fact that it wasn’t all exciting – it had moments of complete dullness) but I also liked the way that there were funny interludes (internet dating, kid stuff) that lightened the mood / made everything more interesting!!

I often don’t read the ‘interview with the author’ at the end of a book – but did on this occasion (possibly because I had it as a hard copy not just as a download) and I am so pleased  I did – firstly because it was interesting hearing from the author – and secondly because I found out there was a sequel which I am super chuffed about!!  This book concluded well as a stand alone – but I LOVE finding out what happens to characters in the future of books I’ve really enjoyed.

I also think I will hunt out Susie Steiner’s back catalogue as it was written so well.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I’ve mentioned before that I have a friend in the publishing industry who sometimes lets me have sneak previews of books (she’s ace!) and this is the one I had to take on my summer holiday.  Both the lender, and a couple of other friends who’d read it RAVED – so I had high expectations – and I was not disappointed!

Eleanor Oliphant

Usually I quote Amazon blurb here – but this book isn’t out until early 2017 – however with a small amount of Googling I found these quotes:

Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency: “Eleanor Oliphant is a bit of an odd ball. She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. That, combined with her unusual appearance (scarred cheek, sometime wearer of an eczema glove), means that Eleanor has become a bit of a loner – or ‘self-contained entity’ as she calls it. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life and phone chats with ‘Mummy’ (in prison for crimes unknown).

But everything changes when Eleanor falls for the local Hipster-band frontman, Johnnie Rivers. As Eleanor prepares herself for her inevitable union with the object of her desire (appropriate attire, new laptop for Instagram stalking), she inadvertently befriends the new guy from her office, Raymond.

As Eleanor navigates the waters of obsessive love and her long-distance relationship with ‘Mummy’, she realises she can only overcome the horrors of her past if she accepts a little help from Raymond…

Filled with unabashed wit, Eleanor Oliphant follows its quirky and troubled female narrator as she realises that the only way to survive her current state of mind is to open her heart to friendship”


 

Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge “I hadn’t been expecting it to happen that night, not at all. It hit me all the harder because of that. I’m someone who likes to plan things properly, prepare in advance and be organised. This came out of nowhere; it felt like a slap in the face, a punch to the gut, a burning.

I’d asked Billy to come along with me, mainly because he was the youngest person in the office; for that reason, I assumed he’d like the music. I heard the others teasing him about it when they thought I was out at lunch, sniggering like schoolgirls. I suppose I could have gone alone. It’s just that I’m very, very tired of always doing things alone. I knew nothing about the concert, hadn’t heard of the band. I was going out of a sense of duty, because I’d won the tickets; they were donated to the Christmas charity raffle, and I knew people would ask about it when the email went round the office.

Billy had a pint and I was drinking sour white wine, warm and tainted by the plastic glasses they made us take into the hall. What savages they must think us! Billy had bought the round, to thank me for inviting him. There was no question of it being a date – we looked like mother and son on an outing.  I suspected he preferred boys anyway.

We drank from the plastic glasses, got comfortable in our seats as the lights went down. Billy hadn’t wanted to watch the support act, but I insisted. Everyone supported someone else at one time, back before they made it big themselves. You never know if you’ll be bearing witness as a new star emerges, never know who’s going to walk onto the stage and blow you away.

He walked onto the stage and blew me away.”


 

Harper Collins Indie Thinking: “Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is fine. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except sometimes, everything.

No-one’s ever told Eleanor life should be better than fine.
But with a simple act of kindness she’s about to realise exactly how much better than fine life can be.”


 

Without doubt this is the best and most different book I have read in a long time.  It is quite simply brilliant.

I admit to bonding a little bit more than I should with Eleanor over our similarities (we both work in accounts, we both sport eczema gloves now and then for our scabby hands, amongst other things) – but the one paragraph that had me totally nodding in agreement with was about sport.

“Sport is a mystery to me.  In primary school, sports day was the one day of the year when the least academically gifted students could triumph, winning prizes form jumping fastest in a sack, or running from Point A to Point B more quickly than their classmates.  How they loved to wear those badges on their blazers the next day! As if a silver in the egg and spoon race was some sort of compensation for not understanding how to use an apostrophe.”

Eleanor is just such a lovely central character and the book is told totally from her perspective – which is, admittedly, not the most normal of perspectives in many ways.

This is a debut novel for the Scottish writer Gail Honeyman – and my earlier Google stalking found out that it’s been sold for a huge sum – and rightly so. This could very well end up being a film – move over Bridget Jones – Eleanor Oliphant is in the house!

I don’t want to write much more – as you need to get to know Eleanor yourself, that’s the whole point of the book – but

YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK!!!

 

 

 

Embarrassing mother award to me!!

The eldest daughter, about whom this tale is based, is mortified I’ve sent the below email – and her younger brother is embarrassed even though he goes to another school!  So what do I do??

Blog about it to see what everyone else thinks! I think I’m totes hilarious (which clearly is part of the problem for the teenager!!)

To set the scene, she started a new school in September in Year 9 (where most of the rest of the year have been there since Year 7) and has been put in the 2nd of 6 maths sets.  She has always enjoyed and been good at maths (definitely one of the many reasons it’s evident she’s my daughter) and is keen to do further maths GCSE – which you have to be in the top set to be allowed to sit.

maths

So here is an extract from my email to her maths teacher – embarrassing mother award to me or what?!?

“We were delighted to hear that D had done so well in the recent maths test (although will be asking her to explain the 6 of the 117 marks she lost!!!)

As we mentioned to you at parents’ evening, D is keen to do further maths at GCSE, but you said that was only possible if she was in top set.  I understand from D, which admittedly is only anecdotal evidence, and only from a small sample of the top set, that her result in this test far exceeded some of those in top set.  I also understand that in recent tests for the 2nd set, her results have been significantly higher than the mode, mean and median for the set!”

Book Review: Maestra by L S Hilton

maestra

THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER
WHERE DO YOU GO WHEN YOU’VE GONE TOO FAR?
Fatal Attraction meets The Talented Mr Ripley, and soon to be a major Hollywood film – prepare for this year’s The Girl on the Train
By day Judith Rashleigh is a put-upon assistant at a London auction house.
By night she’s a hostess in one of the capital’s unsavoury bars.
Desperate to make something of herself, Judith knows she has to play the game. She’s learned to dress, speak and act in the interests of men. She’s learned to be a good girl. But after uncovering a dark secret at the heart of the art world, Judith is fired and her dreams of a better life are torn apart.
So she turns to a long-neglected friend.
A friend that kept her chin up and back straight through every past slight.
A friend that a good girl like her shouldn’t have: Rage.
The Talented Mr Ripley meets Gone Girl in this darkly decadent and compelling new thriller that asks:
Where do you go when you’ve gone too far?”

First things first – this book is VERY sexually explicit.  The prologue is set at a sex party, and the C word (the really rude one, not Christmas) is used in a gynaecological sense on page 2.  This sets the tone for the book, so if that’s not your bag, I would suggest you don’t even start reading this book.

It follows Judith (although she has other guises too) as the central character – but I have to say, I didn’t really like her.  I’m not sure I particularly liked anyone in the book at all!  Which does tie in with people comparing it to Gone Girl (although I’m not sure that was the reasoning for the comparison on the cover #everyoneisunlikeable)

The book jumps between fabulous locations – London, the French Riviera, Lake Como, Rome, Geneva, Paris – and you could almost see it being made a film (and I believe the film rights have already been sold).  Lots of the characters have fabulous lifestyles (materialistically at least #deep)with the author describing art in a very knowledgeable way – along with the clothes Judith wears – almost with a similar reverence.

I haven’t read 50 Shades (deliberately!) but from what I’ve heard (and who hasn’t heard) I think this seems to be trying to be a more cultured version of that – but with just as explicit sex scenes – wrapped up in a more highbrow arena, and with a female protagonist.

I was intrigued to find out what happened next and how the story developed – but I didn’t love this book.  I found the sex scenes a bit forced, almost as if they’d been written separately and slotted in to the book at various points to tick that box.  I also felt like the author was a bit ‘superior’ just in little things such as calling the Mona Lisa ‘La Gioconda’ – now, I know that’s the painting’s real name (although only because we went to see it in October!) but it’s not what people usually call it.

I also wouldn’t say it was a ‘thriller’ really – it was interconnecting stories of altogether not very nice people, with the link being artwork…….

All in all the book was ok – but I think has been totally over hyped in the press, and is a bit disturbing to be honest.

There is a sneak preview of the next book (it’s going to be a trilogy) at the end – and Judith is now masquerading as Elisabeth (with an S – like me!) – but even that may not tempt me to read it…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contacts, contacts everywhere…..

I have 4 children (some would say 5 if you count the husband!) and that’s a lot of social lives to organise.  Because I rarely do the school run (God bless our nanny) I’m a bit rubbish with the names of the parents of my younger 2’s friends.  In fact, the older 2 have started new schools and get themselves to and from school once they’ve been dropped at the train station – so I’m quite rubbish with the parents of their new friends too!

I started saving all of their friend’s parents’ (generally Mums) names in my phone with a cross reference to the child’s name.  But now the kids have friends with the same names.  So I have to put in:

The Mum’s name
Their child’s name
The name of my child to whom this friend relates

Honestly – it’s logistically crazy, and my contacts are overflowing!