Sunday, 30 August 2015

Book Review. Hales Fire by Carl Harwood

A book about dragons.. or is it?
So often when people think of a sci-fi book they say "oh it's not for me". If they gave this book a go they would be pleasantly surprised.
Hale is an orphan accused of being an arsonist. He has been held in a mental institution since he was 14, days before he turns 18 he meets Valder and his whole life changes. He is asked to re-think his whole life, find out the truth about his parents death and deal with a life changing discovery.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a real page turner, I cared about the characters, cheered them on and felt their frustrations, and happiness. The ending was perfect and there is so much more that can become of many of the characters whether it be prequel, sequel or a complete spin-off series.
For me this is on par with "The Hunger Games" trilogy.
As the first in the series I can't wait for the next installment. Don't leave it as long as George RR Martin!

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Book Review - Letting You Go by Anouska Knight


What if tragedy struck and you only had yourself to blame? How do you move on from the past?

Alex Foster lives a quiet life, avoiding the home she hasn’t visited in eight years. Then her sister Jaime calls. Their mother is sick, and Alex must return. Suddenly she’s plunged back into the past she’s been trying to escape.Returning to her hometown, memories of the tragic accident that has haunted her and her family are impossible to ignore. Alex still blames herself for what happened to her brother and it’s soon clear that her father holds her responsible too. As Alex struggles to cope, can she ever escape the ghosts of the past?

I loved this book. At first I wasn't sure if Lorraine Kelly was a good enough endorsement and I started the book with a little trepidation. How wrong I was! 

From the very beginning I was hooked. Alex returns home to a fractured family, dealing with the ghosts of the past and a tangled web of lies. Soon she's caught up with the feelings of guilt she tried so hard to escape. 

I went on an emotional roller coaster reading "Letting You Go" . It was like watching TV and wanting to shout at the characters (in a good way!).  

Anouska Knight is joining my list of authors to look out for and I suggest you read this and do the same. 

A copy of this book was given to me from the publisher Harlequin UK via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Book Review: I Don't Want To Talk About It - by Jane Lovering

Winter Gregory has written a surprise best seller, about dead people. About their graves, their lives, how they may have lived and what their life could have been like. Her twin Daisy lives in Australia but they still talk all the time. Now Winter's left London and gone to North Yorkshire to write the follow up book.  All is going well until Dan, Winter's ex boyfriend and publisher arrives in Yorkshire causing confusion and anger for Winter. She finds herself embroiled in the life of the Hill family. Gorgeous Alex who has a trauma induced stutter and pony mad Scarlet, his eight year old niece.

As with the other Jane Lovering books I've read, I really enjoyed this story. (This is book 5 of the Yorkshire Romances).  Jane writes with such easy style and you are drawn into the world of her characters with ease. You can tell she cares for them and in turn it makes you care.

Without wanting to give anything away, there are many plot twists, enough to keep you going and plenty of drama. You'll feel like a wrung out rag by the time you've finished laughing and crying alongside Winter.

A great choice as a summer read on the beach or curled up indoors. Just make sure you have those tissues handy.

Monday, 10 August 2015

A Kind Word Can Go A Long Way

Once upon a time there was a Mummy a Daddy and two children.  One child was 5, the other was a few months old.

It had been a miserable day weather wise, the Mummy was on maternity leave and thought the five year old needed to get out and spend some of his energy running about. What's more fun that a soft play on a wet day?

The 5 year old was having a lovely time running around.  The baby however wasn't.  She was fractious and tired.  The baby needed to sleep, she was screaming and crying. The Mummy was rocking the buggy but the baby never slept in the buggy, life was far too interesting.

The Mummy rocked, she tried feeding the baby, she checked the baby's nappy. She did everything she could think of.  People were staring.  People were glaring. And tutting. The baby continued to scream, not a quiet cry. Huge racking screams.

Beneath the glares of other parents, there was no sympathy. Just looks of condemnation. "How can she let that baby cry for so long? Why doesn't she do something?"  Not one person who looked over as if to say "hey, we're all parents, we've all been there". No concern apart from one elderly gentleman, possibly a Grandparent who just said "It gets easier".

At the back of the soft play, the Mummy cried, She gathered up her happy 5 year old, the screaming baby and left. She cried all the way home.

Sometimes we all need a gentle word or even a kind look.  Just a half smile to acknowledge you recognise what someone else is going through.

A kind word can go a long way.

My Random Musings

Friday, 7 August 2015

The Dawn of Responsibility.

I'm sure as a child I was walking to school on my own by the age of 7-8.  I was certainly left in the care of my older brother (2 years 9 months older to be exact).  All day in the summer holidays we were out. We lived in a ground floor flat and my Mum used to leave packed lunches for my brother and I on the balcony so we didn't have to go indoors. At the age of 5 I went camping to the Forest of Dean with the local youth club, sans parents (or older brother).

Things are so different now to when I was a child in the 70's and 80's.  These days we seem to be molly coddling our children until  BAM! they are  teenagers demanding to be more grown up than they really are and often left to their own devices.

Mr.M and I are giving the 10 year old some more responsibility.  We've started letting him walk to and from school on his own.  It's about 10 minutes, there's no major roads but a few busy ones especially with parents trying to find parking spaces and zooming about in their bloody great four x fours that are needed for the wild suburban Surrey streets.

I've started letting him pop up to our local Tesco Express for milk & bread essentials - and letting him keep the change. He's walking the dog around the block, ensuring he has poo bags and doesn't let the dog off his lead.

I've also been leaving him for a short while too.  I make him promise not to open the door to anyone. Any of us who need to be in the house have keys. A list of important phone numbers written down and the telephone.  I'm not talking hours on end, usually only about half an hour or so. I take the 5 year old with me of course.

I didn't realise there was no "legal" age on leaving children. Although you cannot leave them if they may be at risk.  I found this link here.

It's so hard trying to find the right balance of letting your babies grow up and start to spread their wings.  

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Loving London Zoo

As I only have one day off a week, during the summer holidays I like to try and actually "do something" with the kids on this day.  However cost is also an issue.  I decided to take the tiddlers to ZSL London Zoo.  I checked on their website for the prices.  As non-members it would cost us £62.50 for one adult and two children.  As luck would have it I've been saving my Tesco Clubcard vouchers. If you didn't know you can boost your vouchers up to 4 times their value. So £15 of vouchers gave me £60 to spend.

I hadn't been there since the 10 year old was a toddler in the buggy, he doesn't remember going and the 5 year old has never been. It's a bit of an epic journey for us on public transport. There is a car park at the zoo which costs about £14 a day and is outside the congestion charging zone but I decided to chance the public transport. The kids were very excited as we drove to the train station, got the overground train, then a tube, then a bus! All we needed was an aeroplane and we've have the full set.

We arrived at the zoo, surprisingly there weren't any queues. Using the vouchers was easy and I was happy paying just £2.50 in cash for our entry.

As soon as you get in you are greeted by a photo opportunity of a great brass statue of Guy the Gorilla. The 10year old asked me why he was famous. I didn't have a clue, just that he was when I was a child. There's also plenty of toilets near the entrance which is great when you've been travelling a while.  We dumped our bags down and set about the map deciding which way we wanted to go.

The first port of call was Penguin Beach. where there was to be a talk at 11.30.  There was plenty of viewing action and the kids loved the round window
where one of the penguins enjoyed swimming near them.  We watched the talk and the naughty seagull "Dave" who pinched their food. He obviously knew what time it was!

From there we wandered into Butterfly Paradise. From the outside it's like a giant bouncy castle. Inside it's a humid spectacle full of the most amazing butterflies flitting around. I happened to be wearing a butterfly top and had a couple land on me to the 5 year olds delight.  Inside you can pick up spotters guides to help.  My two were very interested in the cocoons which are kept in a glass case hatching and drying newly emerged butterflies.

After the butterflies we naturally progressed onto the BUG section.  This is an amazing development and the 5 year old did well not to scream and cry her way round the ants, tarantulas and glow in the dark frogs.  In one section you can walk through with real spiders around you.  This part is optional so the 5 year old and I waited outside for the 10 year old to finish his bravery quest.
We followed the paths and went onto Meet The Monkeys and into Animal Adventure - the children's zoo.  This is where the meerkats are and a firm favourite with small children. There are tunnels the children can enter and pop their heads up meerkat style into their territory.  There's also a fun play area here for kids with a splash zone near a small cafe and much needed toilets.

We'd brought a packed lunch so this is where we decided to stop and rest with a well earned sandwich.  Once we re-fuelled we came to Tiger territory. The enclosure is huge with wall to ceiling glass and a high up viewing area. From there we saw the Galapagos Tortoises and then possibly the main attraction, Gorilla Kingdom.

I was quite sad the gorilla's weren't outside as it was a lovely warm day, however they've just had a new baby addition to their troop.  The alpha male silverback - Kumbuka had just woken from an afternoon nap and funnily enough looked rather similar to MrM in the mornings!

By now it was time to have another little rest, there was a children's puppet type show on in the amphitheatre,  and after that the 5year old went on the carousel and then they both went on the large bouncy castle slide. I sat and enjoyed the peace and quiet with a well earned cup of tea.

By now it was mid afternoon and we'd had a full morning. I wanted to see the giraffe's and the 5 year old wanted to see the kangaroos.  To reach giraffe's you have to go via a tunnel to the "Into Africa" area.  Again there are highly raised platforms to view the giraffes but it was very busy so small children might not get such a great view.  The 5 year old was starting to get a bit fractious, probably because her little legs were aching. It's a lot of walking. 

However, the 5 year old was determined to see the kangaroos so we walked back through the tunnel to go to the "Outback". The kangaroos weren't doing too much but the wallaby's had a burst of energy with one finding himself in with the emu's where a bit of a stand off occurred. 

By now it was time to go. As with all places the exit is conveniently located via the gift shop.  I managed to get out spending only £10 and took my tired but happy little monkey's home.

ZSL London Zoo is a lovely place to visit.  There was so much to see and a lot of thought is not only put into the animals enclosures but for the visitors. Plenty of toilets (yay), plenty of things for children to play with and interactive displays for older ones.

Monday, 3 August 2015

The One With The Bumped Head

Grandad.M and Nanny.M live close to a recreation ground which has a very nice and often busy playground. Grandad M will take the 10 year old, the 5 year old and the silly dog.  10 year old will go and play on the football pitch, silly dog sits by the railings and 5 year old and Grandad.M play in the playground.

On Monday morning they'd all been to the park. Grandad.M left the playground via one gate, 5 year old decided to choose another the other side of the playground. Unfortunately the pathway had been very poorly kept, the 5 year old's foot went down a hole and she fell forward and struck her head on the metal gate.

Apparently there was a lot of blood. The 10 year old reached her first and she was holding her head. Grandad.M sprinted over. He scooped her up and carried her all the way home.  She was cleaned up and plaster stuck on.  Then Grandad & Nanny.M called me at work. I thought she'd be alright as long as she wasn't sick or fall asleep.

Later on, Nanny.M posted a picture of the 5 year old. The cut looked deep. I hadn't realised how deep it was. I felt she needed to go to hospital.  I called Mr.M, we left our work and took her up to the hospital.

The children's A&E was busy, mainly with children with bumped heads. 5 year old was triaged and her observations checked. Heart rate, blood pressure, eye reactions.  All seemed fine.  She's odd and does like going to the Doctors and hospital. She was so brave, even when they were cleaning the cut with saline solution. Not a whimper from her at all.  Eventually she was seen by the Doctor. They decided gluing was the best option as it was very neat. So she was laid on a bed with one doctor holding the cut together whilst another glued. Steri strips were put over the top and we were given instructions on what to do if she started to vomit or appear listless or out of character.

4.30am and she woke up, she felt sick. This went on for the next two hours, every 10 minutes she'd have a wave of nausea until around 6.30am when the vomiting started.  The hospital had advised if she was sick more than three times to bring her in. By 8.30am we decided to take her back to the hospital.

Once again, she was triaged and vital signs all checked, she seemed alright apart from the vomiting. She continued vomiting until 10am. The nurses checked all her vital signs every half hour. luckily they'd put us in a side room, however there are only so many games of eye spy and rock, paper, scissors you can play before losing the will to live.

If you watch Casualty on TV, you'll know A&E have a four hour turnaround before you "breach" ours was 12.30. As 12.30 arrived, we were taken up to the children's ward.  This way A&E don't look like they've broken the guidelines and we then get another few hours wait for the Paediatric Registrar We needed a change of scenery anyway. Cynical? Me?

Eventually the Doctor arrived around 2pm.  She did a full assessment of the 5 year old, checked all her reflexes and muscles and movement. She was happy to let us go.  I was happy we could go. The 5 year old had stopped vomiting, was like a jumping bean in the room and complaining of being "starving".  Normal service had resumed.

It was a stressful couple of days but I'm pleased she is all in one piece.