BBC2's The Shadow Line has been  an incredible visual ride.   Written by Hugo Blick this is an incredibly dark journey into the shadowy underbelly of the drugs world and even darker world of corruption within the police force.  

Right from the start you are never quite sure who is on who's side. 

Chiwetel Ejiofor
Christopher Eccleston 
Richard Lintern 
Robert Pugh

There isn't a single "filler" episode or time wasting moment, it's a non stop rollercoaster of a series that shocks you at every single turn.  Just when you think you know who the baddies are and why they have done what they have done... someone who appeared to have been a thoroughly "good guy" turns out to to have been a "right wrong 'un". 

This series was a real jolt to the system, the acting was excellent, the story very hard hitting and deep and although the body count was quite high by the end of the series, none of the violence was there just to shock, even though it did shock.  

I got the sense of the shadow that the title of the series speaks of, the struggle that a good cop has to stay a good cop when all around him the people who are supposed to be colleagues and on his side are quietly working on their own agenda's.  

Watch it, Watch it!  Watch it!!!!
Every workman.... or workwoman needs the right tools to do their craft and for crochet the main tools are crochet needles. Different weights of wool and cotton thread need different crochet needles so it's always best to have a selection of sizes to work with.  This selection of 13 needles is excellent value for money made in lightweight aluminium and clearly marked with the needle size. 

This set are colourful, lightweight and inexpensive and come in a protective wallet which helps keep them together and clean.  I bought these mainly because I wasn't sure if I was going to take to crochet and they weren't expensive and it seemed a good way to dip my toe in the water.

Reilly Studios, Leicester
Being part of a couple it's always surprisingly difficult to get pictures of yourselves together. There is always one of you behind the camera, it's a bit like that advert about mums and how you're always the pair of feet or the hand in a photo, there but never really there and as I am a keen photographer myself I am rarely in the photos myself. The only photos we have of "us" were taken at our wedding and even those were just snaps taken by the guests.  

So when dear hubby suggested a couples photo session I was in two minds about the whole idea... a) I hate myself in photos,  I never feel particularly attractive and b) someone else being in command of the camera... oh I don't think so!
We went to Reilly Studios in Leicester,  a little bit of a trek from us but still... a day out does no harm does it? Quite an unimposing building I thought until I walked inside, it might look dull from the outside but inside it was all rather glamorous, which gave me a sense of confidence.  

The staff were lovely, friendly, chatty and they made it a fun experience.   We took along three changes of clothes so we got the chance to change so that the photos had a variety of poses and outfits.  Our photographer was very encouraging and funny, he made us laugh and put us at our ease. 

All in all I am incredibly pleased with the photographs we came away with,  they were flattering and if I ever get around to writing that book I promised myself at least I have a photo to put on the back cover. 

I highly recommend Reilly Studios as a photo studio, a great day out and good value for money.

Contact Details for Reilly Studios are

Reilly Studios
Wesley House
Stockwell Head
LE10 1RD

Telephone: 01455 610782

The Happy Hooker is one of the Stitch and Bitch Crochet collection of books.  I would highly recommend this book for even the newest person to the craft of crochet with 40 original crochet patterns, all very modern and exciting including something for everyone.  My personal favourites amongst the patterns being Sweetpea Shawl, Spring in Winter a two piece hat and scarf set that is just divine, Granny's No Square, a really funky bag and Yeehaw Lady, a crocheted cowboy hat which is just the cutest thing ever!  And if the Fluffy Bunny Slippers don't make you go "awwww I want those!"  Well then.... to be frank, you need help.
What I love about this book particularly is the excellent diagrams and clear instructions on stitches, how to hold the crochet needle, equipment to use, the library of stitches .... well just about everything really, the list goes on and on.   All I can say is if you want to learn to crochet and you want to learn by producing modern up to date funky things that fit into fashion today... get this book!

I've found the most beautiful wool, it's by King Cole and it's called Riot. It's so soft and fluffy and I love love love the varities of colour that it comes in.  The wool is variagated, posh word for meaning mixed colours in no particular pattern, I love using this wool for knitting baby booties because it means no two are ever the same, the variation in colours is always a surprise. 

The particular style I've used for these booties is a very simple design which just gives the Riot wool the chance to shine.

There's some amazing colour blends available in Riot. try Yarns 4 Less who have Riot in some wonderful colourways.

Time is a very funny thing, it's a difficult concept to actually wrap one's head around,  at some points it creeps and crawls like when your child is a baby and they are teething and won't sleep for nights on end and whinge and cry all the time, time seems to mooch along at a snail's pace dragging it's feet as you beg for it to hurry up and for that period of time to be over.... please please please when will this end arrrgh.

And then other times time rushes past with the speed of light, so fast you never feel like you are catching up and that it's all getting away from you. 

Motherhood seems to be based so much on time, the passage of it, the squandering of it, the need for more of it...

And then one day you're stunned to find it's all gone by too fast and standing in front of you is the young man that once upon a time was your little baby.

Yesterday I felt that moment upon me,  my son reached his 18th birthday.  All the drama and joys and the tears that were shed over the years reached up and tapped me on the shoulder and I felt that pang... it's all gone by too fast.  My baby is a young man, ready to start his own struggle with time.

From Blog That!
An excellent knitting book for the inexperienced knitter,  the book contains 20 handknit projects all very simple in design and using very basic techniques on the whole.

You will find some slightly more challenging patterning but mostly it is in the form of embellishments and patterns.  But there are enough very simple patterns to get a new knitter started.  by the time you've completed some of the really simple ones you will feel confident enough to tackle adding the embellishments.

All of these Erika Knight designs are knitted in natural fibres, cotton yarns, bamboo, baby cashmerino.  You can substitute these for ordinary acryllic 4ply and double knitting but you need to be aware of the changes that will make in tension. So make sure you do swatch tests first.
I can't tell you how much I loved this book.   As someone descended on my father's side from the African slave trade this book really spoke to me. 

One of the things I liked was that although Ms Gregory doesn't gloss over the brutality that the slaves endured nor does she belittle it or trivialise it a the same time she doesn't dwell on it, she doesn't leave you believing that the violence and cruelty are all that the slaves are about, yes they suffered, yes they were mistreated but the book doesn't leave you with the impression of broken destroyed people who had nothing at the end of it. As people they aren't defined by the ill treatment.

In fact the book leaves you with a sense of just how strong and determined the slaves were, determined to survive, to move on and to build a new life. And for me that was a positive thing. 

I also liked that Ms Gregory shines the light on the slave trade in England, that is very often totally ignored and the concentration is usually on America,  but England did have a slave trade and made a lot of money from it before Wilberforce campaigned against it.

The gentle love story between the frustrated Francis Scott and Mahuru was I imagine supposed to be the focus of the book but I suppose because of my own history and leanings I didn't find myself getting too absorbed in it.  In some ways it was refreshing as the love story is usually supposed to be between the man and the slave girl.
I did also like the fact that the book reveals a snippet of information that a lot of English people don't realise in that people of black African origin remained in the UK after slavery was abolished and built lives, married into the population and had children here long long before the emigrations from the West Indies of the 1950's and '60's

I struggled with this book right from the very start,  I think for starters that my view was coloured by my own historical knowledge of Mary Queen of Scots.   It could also be the whole rampant Catholic thing,  I'm not a believer and therefore struggle with the concept of religious fervour.

Philippa Gregory as a writer does her best and you can't fault her historical knowledge, it's all there from Mary's early days to her disastrous return to Scotland and her imprisonment by her cousin Elizabeth all the way to her final execution.

I can't say I would recommend this book as a "must read" more of an ok if you have a few spare days you want to fritter away then fine go for it.

So what's wrong with it?  Well mostly its a history problem if anything, Mary isn't the most likeable character in history and she wouldn't have actually made a good Queen, from historical references she was a weak, vain woman who made some rather large mistakes but Ms Gregory doesn't seem to be able to make up her mind in her writing if she likes Mary at all or not either.

I also found the Earl of Shrewsbury to be a bit of a wimpy character, he slopes about mooning after Mary which seeing as he was a married man and his wife was also Mary's Gaoler made me cringe a bit in embarassment for the poor woman married to him. 

Not the best Philippa Gregory Book I've read to be honest.

Stephen King is really the writer of my youth,  he is one of the authors that whet my appetite for the written word, I started reading King novels in my early teens and when I say early  I mean 11.  I was happily working my way through Jubilee Gardens Library and had long grown out of the children's section and the librarians seeing my love of the written word very kindly allowed me into the adult section and I read voraciously.  I took home my quota of 10 books every 3 or 4 days and I read them all.  No wonder my eyesight is shot!

I think "The Stand" was my first King novel and I just fell in love, I fell in love with his writing style, with the depth of his ideas and found through his writing a love of the science fiction and horror genre's.  When asked what it is about King's work that I love so much I have to say it's the fact that what he writes about in books like The Stand and in this one Cell is the possibility that it could happen... and that in itself is the most terrifying idea of all.

The Cell is based on the premise that a virus could be transmitted by cell phone... Think about it... just for a moment, how many people have a mobile phone?  Millions? Billions?  What if an event happened that every one of those phones rang at the same moment and transmitted a virus and within hours everyone who received those calls either becomes insane or just dies?

Can you imagine that?  Can you conceive of such a thing?  

Well Stephen King does and he does it so well, so believably that it scared the living daylights out of me.   I read this book cover to cover in a matter of about 3 days and at nigh on 400 pages that's no small feat. I mean one does have to eat and feed other people.

But to me the overriding element I took away from this story was "love", the love of a man for his child, what he would go through, how far he would travel how hard he would search to find and save his son. 

This book is a must read although having said that you may never feel as comfortable answering your mobile phone again if you do read it.

I love books, anyone that has been following my blogs will know that one of my main loves in life is books. I love the way they feel, I love to be able to run my fingers over the pages and the tactile sensation of the paper. I love the slight roughness of the pages of a novel and I glory in the sensual quality of the pages in craft books, all glossy and smooth, it's a delicious sensation. I love the way a new book smells and that crinkling sound of the paper when I  turn the pages in a novel or the slight cracking sound as the spine gives way when you first open it. I adore the shushing sound of glossy pages as they give way for the first time as they slightly stick together when you pull them apart. The weight of a book in my hands is a special thing, it has substance and solidity that's so real.

So for me deciding to go paperless is a big thing,  giving up those delights in favour of being more "eco-efficient" feels like a big sacrifice. So having bought an iPad and installed the kindle apps I thought ok this is the time to bite the bullet and "do the right thing".

So imagine my annoyance when surfing through Amazon and the Apple store I find that going eco friendly is actually more expensive than continuing to purchase books the traditional way!!!! 

I don't actually get it,  it does not compute in my head.  I will, by buying digitally, no longer have a beloved book in my hands,  I will not be using paper, not killing a tree, not contributing to the carbon footprint of the "book" so why then should I pay more for the privilege?

Perhaps I was foolish in thinking that it would be cheaper to buy digitally as it has been in the case of music but it's not. At least with a traditional book it is possible to share the book or sell it on or give it away... This isn't possible with digital versions.   

So for the time being I think as eco unfriendly as it may be I will stick to buying my books in paper format. I don't see why I should give up the pleasure I find in real books if there isn't even the incentive of saving money. 

Rant concluded :)

Barbara Erskine is another favourite author of mine, I have enjoyed all of her books that I've read to date,  I like the way she managed to meld the modern day in with her historical fiction, time slipping between the two time periods.

In Daughters of Fire, Ms Erskine tells the story of two women, Cartimandua the young woman destined to lead her tribe, the Brigantes in Britain at the time of the Roman invasion of the islands and Viv Lloyd Rees who in the modern day is studying the history of Cartimandua and the Brigantes.

I did like the twists the story took and also the almost magical element that Ms Erskine injects with Viv having more and more detailed visions of Cartimandua and her life.   The premises melds the two worlds almost into one and it does feel like Viv is taking part in Cartimandua's life and world.

I did find myself taking sides with both Viv and Cartimandua, they're characters are so strong and vivid I couldn't seem to help myself but it did leave me feeling a loathing with some of the people who were trying to cause problems for them.

All in all it was a great book, thoroughly enjoyable and well worth a read.  It's definitely not Tolstoi but if you're like me and find him quite hard work to read then it's a bonus!

What can I saw that Stargate Universe had been cancelled I have to admit to mixed emotions... on the one hand I didn't enjoy the franchise as much as I had hoped I would.   Whilst it had the Stargate branding and the premise of gate travel was there underpinning the stories, that was about it.   The series promised much with big headliners like Lou Diamond Phillips and Robert Carlisle heading the bill it was promising to be a fantastic series but it got off to a really slow start, the whole of the first season was just warming up and getting to the meat of the story when it came to an end. 

I've found myself waiting and waiting and waiting..... you get the picture for the series to kind of get off the ground and to be frank... it hasn't.  So I am not really surprised that it's been cancelled.  

So what was wrong with Stargate Universe?  Why didn't it work for me?  Well it's quite a few things actually,  the whole premise of these people being trapped on a ship travelling through space with the odd drop off to investigate a planet was fine, definitely down with that, sounded exciting but the reality was the writers missed a trick, the planets were dull, most of them deserted, very little in the way of sentient life and just the odd dodgy creature that was more insectlike than anything else. 

Now I recognise this is probably the reality of what space is like, there probably is very little out there that would be of interest but that kind of doesn't work on television and isn't going to keep viewers watching. Sometimes honesty is a little too dull in truth.
So what else bugged me?  Well actually it was the lack of progress of the actual story,  we never seemed to find out why this bunch of aliens were following the Destiny or why the drones were lying in wait to try and blow the ship out of the sky.  We also never found out where Destiny was actually going.   I think it was this lack of actual destiny that was part of the problem,  we weren't given enough breadcrumbs to keep the story interesting or in the end even to care where the Destiny was going.

The final episode has to be the most disappointing of all, now whether they knew that the franchise had been cancelled or not when they made it I don't know but the last programme was either made with the intentions of making another season or it was just a throw away, we don't really care about being fair to the viewers because it did nothing to either progress the story or answer any questions.  Ending as it does with Eli standing alone on the bridge of the Destiny as she flies off into the darkness of space.

Errrr.... What?  There's nothing, no answers to any of the questions that have been raised throughout the whole thing...  it just stops! That's it! Finis! End! Goodbye!

A thoroughly disappointing let down. 
Who knew that those sticky little squares that are stuck on the corners of all those letters and cards that come through your door every day could be so valuable. PreemiesUK take donations of stamps and sell them to make money to purchase wool and other materials to make tiny baby items which are then donated to Early Baby Units all over the country.

Tiny early babies need to be kept warm but their turnover of clothing is really high, all of the items have to be soft, warm but also have to be washed at very high temperatures for hygiene reasons so they don't last long in a hospital setting.

So take a pile of these.... 

and trade them in for some of this....

and then create lots and lots of these....

To keep delicate new lives warm and cosy when they are at their most vulnerable and need the most loving care. 

All this work is done by the lovely volunteer ladies at PreemiesUK just because they can! 

And you can help just by sending your donations of stamps or wool, buttons, ribbon and fabric to:
138 Farmers Green

If you want to offer help with knitting tiny items that is welcome as well, knitters, crocheters and sewers are all helpful and welcome,  more information about PreemiesUK can be found on their FB page just click on the link PreemiesUK Facebook Page
Technology is such a cool ting, every time i turn around there is something new out there! I love my iPad so much it is now the one thing i don't leave the house without... Ok that's a lie... I don't leave the houae without quite a few things if I am honest, keys, phone, purse etc are kind of essential, unless you want to be locked out of your home with no way of telling anyone whi could rescue you what a numbnut you have been for leaving without your keys and phone... But I do leave the house with a lot less "stuff". For instance, i don't need to carry a book anymore (that was an essential for me) Nor do i have to carry a calculator or a pen and paper. I have entertainment in the form of games at my fingertips and I can even sit and draw a picture if I want to or take a photograph and manipulate it on the go!

If we are out with the kids we can keep them entertained with stories and games and workwise... There are apps for every kind of function you can imagine so I can just pick up my IPad and work anywhere, be that in the car, waiting outside school on the school run or sitting under a tree on a nice day.

So whilst I did think the IPad was the ultimate geek toy when it first came out, I have been converted even down to having Facetime calls with the other half when he is away on work trips. It's official I am a geek!

- LisaP


I was really looking forward to reading this book,   I finished The White Queen, the previous book to this one and had enjoyed it, even if I did find some of the airy fairy witchcraftery a bit repetitive... but I am a Philippa Gregory fan on the whole, the relaxed historical fiction usually has enough historical fact and attention to detail as well as just enough fiction to make it enjoyable.

But I have to admit The Red Queen was a struggle for me,  it's not Ms Gregory's writing... or maybe it is but I found the main character Margaret Beaufort really hard work.  The story follows exactly the same events of history as The White Queen but from the other side of the battle and that part of the idea was really interesting, seeing just how "right" both sides think they were and how actually they both claimed to be fighting for exactly the same thing and both claiming that it was "gods will".  

For me the big question there is... who is to say what exactly God's will is and how do they know???    It must be a very comforting to be so convinced that you know what God wants.

The book follows Margaret Beauforts life from her earliest childhood where from the very earliest time in her life it is made clear to her that she is merely a pawn in the political games of others and that she in and of herself is of very little value apart from her station in life and her only task is to produce a male heir for the House of Lancaster. 

I don't suppose I should be surprised that this unwanted unloved child found her only comfort in her religious beliefs and being that pious should have made her likeable... but it doesn't. Throughout the book I found her bitter and jealous, vengeful and filled with venal pride, all of which she tries to say is God's will.  She spends most of her life on her knees praying and yet doesn't seem to recognise that the way she behaves and her vengence and jealousy are sinful! There were times that I found myself flinging the book down and muttering "what a hypocrite".

By the end of the book I actively disliked the woman, which is a shame as I didn't want to.  But in some ways that's not a bad thing, the whole point of a story is to get across the characters that are being written about and in this case Ms Gregory nailed it if what she intended was to make Margaret Beaufort out to be an angry, bitter, jealous, spite filled woman whose whole life was an endless stream of disappointments.