Wednesday, 25 May 2016

My Summer TBR List...


In recent weeks you might have noticed that I have begun to move more of my book related content over to my YouTube channel.  That doesn't mean that I am pulling the plug on sharing books over here however; I know that not everyone enjoys watching my mug talk about books for 10+ minutes, and likewise, that some people don't hop over to visit the blog after watching a video.

I'm not usually good with TBR (To Be Read) lists as I never stick to them but as my bookcase is now beginning to overflow with books I have bought and not got around to reading yet I am setting myself the challenge this summer of at least attempting to make in-roads into this ever-expanding collection of books.

On top of this, of course, there are the books which I received for my birthday (video coming soon!) and the books which I have recently been sent and asked to review.  So not a tall order in the slightest then...nope...

The Lake House by Kate Morton
I could talk about Kate Morton until the cows came home; she is one of my absolute favourite authors and I have been desperately waiting for her latest book to be released in paperback so I could add it to my collection.  When it arrived I had to leave it in the packaging because I knew as soon as I opened it I'd want to put down the book I am currently reading and dive straight in.  Must. Resist.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
This is a bandwagon I have yet to jump on.  I think I've said before that I'm not always a fan of books which are surrounded by a whole load of hype because I hate being let down and it's only for this reason that I haven't yet picked this book up.  I am curious to read it though so I'm adding it to my list.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This is the first of two books which have sat on my TBR bookshelf for quite some time because I have felt intimidated by the size.  It might not look that hefty but the writing is teeny tiny!  I have heard so many good things about this book though that I'm desperate to pick it up.  I'm just hoping to somehow find the time this summer!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo
This is a new addition to my shelves and one I'm really looking to pick up soon.  As a family we have spent the last couple of weeks having a major shift around and clear out at home; the kids getting new toys for their birthdays prompted a lot of it.  The rooms looked fabulous and then, somehow, it all disintegrated into chaos again.  So I'm keen to see whether this book can help us solve some of the common tidying issues we seem to continually face.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
I picked this book up in April, along with some others and am determined that this summer I am going to read it.  It's the other book which I have avoided even buying because of the size of it but I have heard such raving reviews about it that I really want to read it.  I just need to make myself do it.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
I was filming a video a couple of weeks ago sharing my bookcases and I realised that I have had the entire Vintage Dickens collection for a number of years now and so far only read one of his books.  Isn't that shameful?!  For someone who claims to love literature I need to hang my head.  So that's why this book is here.  Even if I only manage to read one Dickens book a year that's still better than zero!

The Magicians' Guild by Trudi Canavan
This poor book has been from pillar to post since I bought it.  James read it first and said it was great so I stuck it on my nightstand and intended to read it as soon as I'd finished my current book.  But then I got side-swiped and started reading another fantasy book.  Once I'd finished that I didn't fancy another fantasy so it just sat on my nightstand and there it has remained, forgotten about.  Hence it's appearance on this list.  I WILL read it.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

A Return to Speke Hall...


Last September, following our recent decision to become National Trust members, we visited Speke Hall for the first time.  We all had such a good time that I'm not sure why it has taken us so long to arrange a repeat visit, especially when, in good traffic it's only about an hour's drive from our home.

One thing the weather was not doing this time around, compared to last time, was playing nice.  The day started off okay as we pottered around the house and contemplated what do.  By the time we had decided and gotten everyone ready and into the car, the heaves had opened and torrential rain was hammering down.  We very nearly turned around and headed straight back home but figured we could all do with some fresh air, rain or not.

It turned out to be the better decision as by the time we arrived the rain had stopped and just a short time later the sun had come back out and we were treated to glorious blue skies and beaming sunshine for the rest of the day.  Go figure with British weather!



The first place both kids wanted to head was the maze.  They could spend absolutely ages just tearing around, trying to find each other.  I don't know whether it's the exhilaration they get from the possibility that they 'could' lose us and each other or the fact that they just like making one another jump by leaping out around corners but it was the one place they wanted to go last time and it was no different this time around either.  We could only get them out by promising a return visit before we left for the day.


I had been keen to do some bluebell spotting but disappointingly we had left it a little late in the season.  There were still a few of the pretty flowers dotted around but nothing like the carpet I had been expecting.  I think we need to time our visit better next year.


One of the benefits of the weather being so unpredictable was that we had the place basically to ourselves.  The grounds of Speke Hall are big enough that you don't really see many people anyway but it was really quiet which was lovely.  We opted not to visit the house this time around and instead spent the remainder of the afternoon on the lawns just outside the house.


The kids put on a little gymnastic show for us before getting distracted by plans to build a squirrel house.  They had this grand idea that they would be able to capture a squirrel and keep it as a pet.  Given that we were fairly confident the squirrels wouldn't be interested in the 'bait' of pink petals and pine cones we just left them to it...



It never fails to make me smile when I see the kids engaging with nature around them.  As we hear more and more about how our children don't spend enough time outside, I can be confident that we are raising two children who are quite at home rolling around in the grass and clambering through woodland hunting out the perfect door for a miniature house! 


Even if that comes with the price of having to have selfies taken all the time...