I am living up to my maxim of "take photos of random things 'cos sometimes you get what you want!"  Pie laughs at me... but it works!

These were taken on a beach walk in Galway,  it was a lovely day and trust me in Ireland you don't take those for granted.  It's green for a reason... RAIN!

I don't know what it is about rock that fascinates me,  I think it's the variety of colour and shadow that you get. it's hard but so pretty at the same time.

More photos taken on our Autumn walk.

Went for a walk with my hubby on what will probably be the last decent day this Autumn.... camera's in hand to se what we could capture.  Hope you enjoy my pictures... and yes I do like to take pictures of weird and quite random stuff. 

I hate September, it's a bit childish to hate a month, but I dread it and every year right on cue it comes round and there is no escaping it or the welling of painful memories and emotions that inevitably come along with it.  Today is the day when our dream of having a child together officially ended. Today was the day that Nathan came into and went out of our lives... Can you say was born? Does someone who never had any chance of survival count as being born?

I ask myself why his loss, one out of so many, should be the one that hurts so much and why so many years later this day should still hold so much pain? Maybe it's because his loss really was the end of our road, even if we didn't allow ourselves to believe it, or rather I didn't want to believe it, but it was, the infection after losing Nathan really did put paid to any further attempts, I just couldn't accept that then.

Maybe it's because he was the only one I thought was going to make it, when you get to the magical 12 weeks you start to think 'yes! We're ok! Danger zone past!'  By 16 weeks you're telling people and beginning to plan and becoming attached to the little person in there, so the blow is all the harder to take when it comes.

I hadn't really let myself get attached with the others, more so after Nathan, by then I had realised there was no 'out of the woods' point in a pregnancy for me, it was always going to be an exercise in terror and I should accept it, but with Nathan I was already enraptured, he had a name, I knew he was a 'he' and we already had that connection, that bond, that love. Or at least I did, who knows what he felt.

Maybe in Nathan how I feel is accumulation of emotion surrounding all the miscarriages, maybe it's the tangible experience I had, perhaps this grief is for all of them, just he is the one with a name, he is the one that I wasn't alone for. He is the one we got to sit and hold and cry together over.

The last few weeks have been difficult for me, its not that the ache of loss ever goes away, it doesn't, but most of the time I absolutely refuse to let it rule me. I don't want to be defined by the losses, the pain or the sadness. But once a year I let myself feel it because if I don't I feel that the depth of these emotions will drown me and I couldn't fight my way back again.  Like a release valve on a pressure cooker. 

I was feeling so low last week I took myself off to the cinema alone,  I purposely picked what I thought would be a sad movie, Anna Karenina, I thought I can sit under the cover of darkness and cry and no one will question it. Didn't work,  film was not very good, I shed no tears, no release was had but I did cry all the way home in the car listening to sad songs.  So thats a lesson for me... Just sit in the car next year and listen to Tracy Chapman.

So today is Nathan's Day, today is the day I grieve and mourn the dream that never was and tomorrow I will dry my eyes, lock away the pain and get on with the business of living... Until next year.

Love this book! Whether you are a completely new knitter of a very experienced one this book is invaluable.

For the newbie knitter there are pages and pages of how to's to get you started and teach you how to knit from scratch and for the experienced knitter instructions on 400 different knitting stitches including both written description and charts.

Why is this handy?  Well let's say you've been knitting for some time and you want to have a go at designing your own patterns this book describes the stitches per repeat which makes it so much easier to develop a pattern.

Using this book you could make endless afghans of patchworked patterns.  Definitely worth buying and having in your library, you will refer to it often.

Now I have always been a fan of erotic fiction.  Well written erotic fiction that is, not your 50 Shades of Badly Written Crap, properly structured, grammatically correct erotic fiction, stuff that titilates the senses as well as entertains the mind.  Strangely bad writing is an utter turn off for me.

I have always thought that written erotica was a female province, women are much more "in their heds" when it comes to sex, we seem to be much slower to get the engine running and we take our time getting to where we need to go, whereas men, it seems, only need a flash of breast and they are off! No need for a starter pistol there.

I guess the one good thing about 50 Shades of Tripe is that it has mainstreamed erotic fiction, I am giggling at his point as I keep mistyping fiction and it's coming out as fuction.... Freudian slip perchance? Given the blog topic it's kind of apt.

Anyway, back on point, by having a triology of erotic fiction novels hit the shelves of Tesco has really opened the door for so any other, better, books to come out from under the counter, I can well imagine Amazon are seeing a surge in sales in this genre as well.

Well for those of you that have been switched on to Erotic Fiction let me suggest this book as your next foray.  On Demand is a collection of... shall we say "adventures" based in a hotel and written in the form of 'scenes' or short stories if you will.   It isn't a love story although there is love of many kinds to be found within the stories and all the scenes link together and have some central characters that you follow.  But the stories are very sexy, racy, risque but written in such a classy, mature way that no matter how depraved the story none of it reads as tacky.

Definitely worth a read and partners everywhere will enjoy the side effects from their ladies enjoying a little late night reading, even if does mean they get woken up at odd hours to deal with the consequences.
Who knew running a cake stand could be so exhausting!!!  I went to help my friend Cathy woman her stand at the Whittlesey Festival (great day out by the way, loads to see and do!).  Sounded a simple enough endeavour.... cakes after all aren't all that heavy are they?

So we arrive and set about setting up the stand, we gather tables and chairs from Cathy's office and put up the canopy (genius piece of kit I must say!) and we lay out the cakes as attractively as we can and they did look pretty marvellous and mouth watering. 

And we stood back and waited for the hoards to arrive and arrive they did.  During the day there was a steady stream of people picking up their delicious Pattiecakes treats.  

It was only at the end of the day we really could see how much we had sold because all day long we were refilling the trays and displays from cunningly hidden boxes filled with more cakey goodness. 

It wasn't all completely plain sailing however, quite a few lessons were learned during the course of the day... most importantly that weights for the base of the canopy were important accessories to have as when there was a massive gust of wind the thing almost blew away and we had to pounce on the legs to keep the thing from blowing over.

We also discovered that the sun is not always your friend... we had to scuttle around changing the side panels on the canopy to keep the sunlight off the cakes... chocolate toppings don't react well to sunshine, however even when they started to melt the chocolate ones sold out faster than any other!

I had a fantastic day helping Cathy but I will admit to being completely shattered by the time I got home carrying my box of left over goodies... believe it or not I only got 1 out of the whole box, the rest were snarfed down in good order by teenage boys.  but glowing praise from them... Conor says that Cathy's cakes are "amazeballs"  some new teenage terminology that means great apparently.

Cathy does take commissions on cakes of all types, so if you have a special event and need a fabby cake her website is http://www.pattiecakes.co.uk/


I remember vividly walking past this building as a child, I can't remember why, possibly an eye appointment somewhere, but I do have this memory of this building when it was an absolute wreck, damaged from the war and falling down from neglect it was this horrible shell.

Today St Pancras Station is a magnificent delight,  the red brick and gothic mouldings give it a Hogwarts feel and the wonderful latticework and glass ceiling allow the light to flood in and make the interior warm and bright.

The restoration of this structure and the clever use of the building with the addition of eateries, a champagne bar and shopping venues,  make it somewhere to visit in and of itself not just for passing through on the way to somewhere else.

I really loved the statues inside the station itself, there is one of Sir John Betjamen and one of a couple tenderly holding each other,  you're not sure if they are saying a bittersweet farewell or exchanging a long loving greeting after some time apart, it works either way but you feel the emotion in the piece and I really liked that.

Loved this book! I was completely enthralled by the characterisations and the plot.  Obviously as it is a novel based on real people and historical events, if you know your history of the Englsh Monarchy then you already know how it ends but somehow because of the fantastic writing weaving a perfectly believable lifelong lovestory into what is already there I found myself hoping for different outcomes, even though logically I already knew what I hoped for was already impossible by dint of time.

For me the measure of how much I enjoy a book is how much of my sleep am I prepared to forego (I was a sloth in a previous incarnation) in order to read it and with book I can genuinely say, I lost significant z's.

Whilst much is made of King Charles I and his beheading the story of his French Princess Bride is glossed over in history lessons, all I remember being taught about Henriette Marie of France was that she tried to turn England back to Catholicism and that she was the reason in the end that Charles ended up sans noggin.

But perhaps this was not so, perhaps in the mists of time and he chroniclers of the time just painted that picture for convenience... After all histories are not written by the dead, are they? 

Anyway, I liked the version of Henriette Marie I was introduced to in this story, beautiful, full of life and determination and with a backbone maybe not of steel, maybe willow, bending and swaying with circumstance, bending but never breaking and always returning upright when the storm has passed. This woman was more than a Queen she was a builder, a creator, a woman of vision.

Fiona Mountain is a wonderful writer, her descriptive style draws you in and really paints a picture that I was seeing in my mind as I read. 

My youngest son is Dyspraxic and has ADHD, he was diagnosed at 9, but I always knew there was something... I won't say 'wrong' with him because I don't think of it as an illness or a defiency it's just part of his makeup and makes him who he is.  Intelligent, funny, sarcastic, persnickety, ultra logical and painfully honest.  But I also won't say it is easy to live with either, hence the guilty pleasure title of the post... I feel guilty that I am happy that he has gone to his fathers for a few days, after an entire summer holiday of Conor I need a break from him, whilst he is all the positive things I said he is also irritating, argumentative, blunt to the point of rudeness and totally oblivious to anyone's feelings but his own.

I guess I always knew there was something different about him from when he was really small, it was little things, rapt attention to a task to the point of obsession sometimes, but I got that, I was like that myself so I understood it.  It was later, at school that his issues really came to the foreground, constant arguments with a specific teacher after which I would be called in and complained to about his behaviour.  Apparently him pointing out that she was incompetant was inappropriate (even if it was true...she got fired by the end of the term). I did try pointng out that she should be impressed that not only did a 7 year old know in what context to use the word 'incompetant' (secretly I was well chuffed) but he could also spell it correctly... Now that is impressive you have to concede!

A period of 2 years of constantly complaining from the school about Conor's "rudeness" and for rudeness I would substitute "excessive bluntness" my son calls a spade a spade,  if you're ugly he would happily tell you, my dearest friend Suzi will testify to this, not the ugly part, she isn't,  but Conor christened her cabbage and it's stuck.  This was a very difficult time, as a single parent I was endeavouring to date and had many a man seen off by Conor baring his arse at the poor chap.  I think in his mind it was some sort of test to see if they would stick around.... If you can bear the sight of my arse you're alright with me! Kind of thing....   Not many men managed to stick it out I have to say.

But the most difficult side effect of Conor's behaviour was my mental health.  I couldn't work out where I was going wrong? At his fathers he was a model child, at home he was hell on legs,  he seemed to enjoy tormenting me, many was the day I locked myself into my bedroom with him battering on the door demanding entry whilst I sat on the inside crying bitter tears wondering what was I doing wrong. 

The day came when then school insisted he go to the child and adolescent mental health dept for assessment and I will be forever grateful for that insistance... After tests suddenly there was a reason... I wasn't a shit parent with an out of control 'naughty' child.  I was the parent of a Dyspraxic child and all of a sudden the lights came on.  

Treatment for the ADHD was offered and administered and things did get better, obviously Dyspraxia is not a condition that has a pharmaceutical solution but there are coping mechanisms and behavioural therapies that help and we use them.  

We haven't, however, managed to find a way of stopping Conor taking great pleasure in tormenting me, trust me 4 hours of being poked in the arm repeatedly by a knittng needle would be enough to send a saint into a screaming fit... I am no saint trust me... I scream!

But i have learned to see the behaviour as in some ways flattering, he torments me because he feels safe, I'm the one person he feels safe enough tormenting that he feels won't go anywhere, I'll put up with it and him because he is my son and I love him.

Doesn't mean I won't lose the plot and throw a shoe at him though... Like I said... I am no saint.

So here is to my days off from Conor... my holiday so to speak and when he comes home and asks did you miss me? I will be as forthright as he and say "no!"

Ok to start with, originally I didn't actually buy this book, my husband thought it would be a good wheeze to put it on my ipad, mostly I think for embarassment factor, so I thought 'oh no miladdo I am not playing that, I shall read this book and then laugh at you'.

Sadly, the joke remained on me! I had seen that this book had been spotted being read by umpteen celebs and been hyped as if it was the next instalment to the karma sutra... trust me on this... neither is the case. 

So what do we have?  Well ostensibly the story (thin though it is) is about a very damaged man who meets an incredibly innocent young woman (a virgin no less... don't get many of them to the pound these days) and their ensuing "romance" if you can call it that.  I know I wouldn't.

What was good about the book?  Depends on your point of view really, if you want a story, good writing, a decent plot, then you will be sadly disappointed. If you just want copious amounts of repetitive sex then rock on this is the book for you!

My main quibble is the author's absolute lack of descriptive vocabulary, she only seems to know one word for sexy... "HOT" that's pretty much it.   I was a bit shocked that given there are such things as online thesaurus's she didn't take the time to bother to try and find some alternative options to that one word. For shame!

Sooo let's take a moment to have a little go at that shall we?  If you pop the word HOT into a thesaurus you get 
baking, blazing, blistering, boiling, broiling, burning, calescent, close, decalescent, febrile, fevered, feverish, feverous, fiery, flaming, heated, humid, igneous, incandescent, like an oven, on fire, ovenlike, parching, piping, recalescent, red*, roasting, scalding, scorching, searing, sizzling, smoking, steaming, stuffy, sultry, summery, sweltering, sweltry, thermogenic, torrid, tropic, tropical, very warm, warm, white

Now that's not bad is it... whilst the word 'hot' really is about temperature there are quite a few words there that could quite easily apply to the sexiness of an individual or a situation. no?

Now let's put in the word "SEXY" and see what you get. 

arousing, come-hither, cuddly, flirtatious, hot*, inviting, kissable, libidinous, mature, provocative, provoking, racy, risqué, seductive, sensual, sensuous, slinky, spicy*, steamy, suggestive, titillating, voluptuous
adorable, alluring, beautiful*, charming, covetable, enticing, fascinating, fetching

That took me all of 30 seconds... so seriously this author couldn't take 30 seconds to come up with another word for HOT????

And if you get really really adventurous and pop in the word 'ATTRACTIVE' you get

adorable, agreeable, alluring, beautiful, beckoning, bewitching, captivating, charming, comely, enchanting, engaging, enthralling, enticing, fair, fascinating, fetching, glamorous, good-looking, gorgeous, handsome, hunky, interesting, inviting, looker, lovely, luring, magnetic, mesmeric, pleasant, pleasing, prepossessing, pretty, provocative, seductive, stunning, taking, tantalizing, teasing, tempting, winning, winsome

So there you have it... basically the writer of this book was just lazy. Hmmm should I pop that into the thesaurus... yeah let's just for fun.

apathetic, asleep on the job, careless, comatose, dallying, dilatory, drowsy, dull, flagging, idle, inattentive, indifferent, indolent, inert, lackadaisical, laggard, lagging, languid, languorous, lethargic, lifeless, loafing, neglectful, out of it, passive, procrastinating, remiss, shiftless, slack, sleepy, slothful, slow, slow-moving, snoozy, somnolent, supine, tardy, tired, torpid, trifling, unconcerned, unenergetic, unindustrious, unpersevering, unready, weary

Well there you go... another 30 seconds of my life I won't get back

My other issue with this book was the actual characters... the girl is wetter than a weekend in Ireland, she has all the spine of... well... an amoeba and the all hailed Christian Grey?  Seriously I would kick that twat so hard in his privates that sex would be the last thing on his mind, he would be too busy trying to breathe! 

What the devil was this writer trying to do, put back women's sexuality by about 100 years?  Not only was this book a terrible representation of BDSM and sex play in general but it also advocates stalking, bullying and other generally undesirable attributes in a relationship.  It's one thing to be manly and take control in a relationship, but come on... when does stalking ever become acceptable?

I bought this book on a whim when I was browsing my way through Amazon, I love anything about Tudor history, not entirely sure why, I mean it's not as if the story changes is it?  We all know what happened!  But I hadn't read anything by this author but I thought go for it.

I have been really surprised by how much I enjoyed this story, it follows the very familiar story of Anne Boleyn and her relationship with Henry but it's a dual story as it also follows that of a fictional character, Lucy Cornwallis, a talented subtleties maker.   

I bet you are wondering what a subtlety is... I know I was.  A subtlety was almost a sculpture made of sugar, these days I imagine that we would call these "deserts", marchpane,  sugared fruits, cake and spun sugar was used to create fantastical decorative centerpieces that were very popular in Court and fine houses. 

I really liked the jumping style of the book from Anne's story to Lucy's and back again and how that their lives cross paths and mesh. 

Definitely worth a read.

This book is so handy, specially for those new to knitting, there is a great collection of quite simply designs that are easy to follow and make up. In particular the crossover vest which doesn't have any buttonholes to do... always a pain for a new knitter to get to grips with and the beanbag and blanket designs are straight forward and a great introduction to knitting where you end up with a nice end product and not just a ropey square that ends up going in the bin... yeah I did that... A lot at the start.

Debbie Bliss is brilliant at making sure that there are plenty of instructions in her books on how to do the stitches so even if you are a complete novice you wouldn't have any trouble getting started.

This book is part of a two parter really, even though the story kind of stands on its own, it is the follow up to Earthly Joys. Where the first book follows the John Tradescant the Older in his career as gardener to the King, this book follows his son who inherits his father collection of plants and also his love and skill with the.  John however gets to travel to America in search of new plants where he meets native Indians and falls in love with their lifestyle. 

 As usual Philippa Gregory writes with style and grace, and I found myself falling into the story and living the adventure.

This is a really really useful little book, it's not huge , only 96 pages but well worth its size for the amount of information packed into it. I was expecting a book of designs but whilst there are some designs to get you thinking and trying ideas out there is also a wealth of information about gems, names, settings, design consideration, matching accessories and how to work with a bride during a very stressful time... and a whole section on building a bridal jewellery business, including market research, business planning and pricing.  

So if you are thinking along those lines this book is well worth getting.

Love Philippa Gregory's writing style... but then you probably know that as I am sure I have mentioned it before... once or twice, maybe even three times.  

This story is following John Tradescant the Elder who was in his time the greatest gardener of his age.  John_Tradescant_the_elder.

John was a naturalist, collector of plants and gardener to what would be today classed as "the stars".  He created some of the most beautiful gardens in England, places like Hatfield House, Salisbury House, St Augustine's Abbey.  John travelled extensively gathering plants and seeds for his collection which were house eventually in a house called "the Ark"

Obviously writing any novel about the past has to involve a certain amount of licence and guess work, especially when recreating a conversation or a possible situation and this is where Philippa Gregory excels, she manages to retain historical accuracy at the same time as keeping a story interesting and true to the time frame it's been written.

I'm not a big gardener,  I do in fact have a black thumb and am the kiss of death to most plantlife but that didn't stop me enjoying every page of this book.

Now that my husband and I have stopped trying to have a baby of our own lots of other questions have come in to play... What about adoption? Fostering?  Could I feel the depth of feelings for a child that was not my own? I shouldn't be asking these questions really as I already have stepchildren in my life but adoption is different, all my stepchildren I have a connection with, the other parent so you do know something of where they come from but with an adopted child you probably wouldn't know anything.
Summer Olivia and her Mummy Samantha
Recently a dear friend gave me the highest honour I can think of by asking me to be godmother to her child,  I didn't have a single moment of hesitation, it's funny but throughout her pregnancy this friend had had a horrible time, being there for her was by turns a heartbreaking experience and sometimes frightening and sometimes I just felt angry for her with the things she was having to go through. So little Summer Olivia was already named "Tough Cookie" before she even arrived, such was her determination to survive. 
But the moment I got to hold Summer for the first time I just felt it, that overwhelming rush of love, that desire to protect and care for... there were no doubts, no questions, just love. 

I enjoyed every moment of my visit to Sam and Summer, even the poopy nappies, the baby sick and the crying and I can't wait to go back and spend more time with my friend and my gorgeous goddaughter. 

But the one question the visit did answer for me was that yes. I could love a child that was not my own. That just opens up a whole new parcel of questions though?  Would I be prepared to give up some of my hobbies?  Where would we put another child? Could we even afford it?  We're on the verge of being able to go on holiday as a couple, could I forego that?

But then, thinking about it, not going there would mean more free time to zip up motorways unencumbered to spend time with Sam and Summer.

Have you ever been gagging for a book to come out?  I have and this was the book, I have read all the previous 5 in the series and loved them, loved them so much I had re-read them several times and I had always hoped that this one would come soon, pleeeeease let it come soon. I think you are getting the drift on my desire to read this book.

Anyway finally the book comes out and like an avid child in a sweetshop I rushed to buy it... I even bought it in hardback because (a) I knew I would have to wait for the paperback and I'm not good at waiting and (b) I thought oh I know I will read it more than once so I can justify the hardback price.

So I save this to take with me on holiday and settle down in the sun for a good read... after about 100 pages though I was just about ready to cry.... with disappointment! 

After waiting all this time for this book I couldn't believe just how bad the book was.  I mean the characters are the same, the same people I felt I had been getting to know throughout the previous 5 books, so my attachment to them should have been the same.  It wasn't a lack of emotional investment or interest on my part.   It was just the book... I don't know what happened to Jean M Auel but this book just didn't have the same oompf that the others did.  It was like she just ran out of steam, the book was so repetitive.. by page 100 I was literally screaming "ok already I know people find her freaking accent unusual... shut up about it!!!"

But I am stubborn and as it was the ONLY book I brought on holiday with me I felt compelled to finish it.  I did... barely... almost chucked it in the sea a couple of times and the disappointment I felt at the repetition in the book wasn't salved by a strong ending... no it was the wishy washiest ending to an epic story I have ever seen.  Now this could have been because I was already so annoyed with the disappointment of the body of the story or it could just have been because the ending was rubbish either way that's several hours of my life I won't be getting back. The last time I saw a plot this wet it involved Bobby Ewing being in a shower and it all being a dream in Dallas.

And to top it off, I almost left the book in the hotel room, I was that disgusted with it, but no, I thought I will take it home and stick it on the bookshelf only to get charged for excess baggage on the way home... if I had left the book behind that would have been a chunk of weight we didn't end up paying for.

The editors of this books should have gone through it with a big red pen and marked "repetitious" on every page.

We hopped aboard a Citysightseeing tour bus, this was a bit of an adventure for me, as I have never had the opportunity to travel much, this was a chance for a bit of time with my husband to do the "touristy" bit in between his many conference obligations.  The offer of a Harbour Cruise on the Captain Morgan boat was enough of a temptation to overcome his initial reluctance. So we booked up to go on a 90 minute bus tour called the Violet Tour with an immediately following hour long boat ride.  What fun!

I must point out that this was a close as we got to going on the Harbour Cruise as you will find out, I took this photo before we left on the bus tour whilst we were waiting for our bus to arrive.   We hopped on the Hop On Hop Off Bus and we set off, the sun was gorgeous and the open topped bus was just the perfect vehicle to let you take photos as you pootled about the main towns of Malta.

However, things went wrong about half way round our tour when the sound system of the bus was reported to the driver as not being working, so we were very quickly transferred onto another bus, except the bus we were transferred to wasn't doing the Violet Tour but the much much Blue Tour so instead of 90 minutes on the bus it was 3 hours on the bus!  Not what was intended but on the bright side we saw a lot more of Malta and got lots of great photos.  No Harbour Tour though, so when and yes I did say when we come back to Malta that's got to be on the list along with the Craft Village which was unfortunately shut it being a Sunday. 

These are some of the photos (only some, I took hundreds) from the tour.

Love the mix of old and modern architecture in Malta
Ultra Modern Conference Venue

As an island Malta is actually really small with only a small population of 400,000 (ish), but the history of the island is fascinating as it has been of strategic importance to so many difference conquering nations and each conqueror has left a piece of their culture behind especially in the impressive churches and fortifications.

A lot of central Malta is dedicated to farmland and growing the fruits and vegetables that we have enjoyed during our trip.  In particular the peaches and strawberries here are just divine.

Love the amazing scaffolding

Angry Birds in real life