Friday, 22 September 2017

For the Love of Books | Currently Reading September 2017

September's seen in a drop in how much reading I've managed.
Just one finished, with one on the go and two waiting.


The novel I finished (on Kindle) was The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh.
Imagine a place populated by criminals - people plucked from their lives, with their memories altered, who've been granted new identities and a second chance. Welcome to The Blinds, a dusty town in rural Texas populated by misfits ...
The plot was unsettling, as all the characters are not what they initially seem,
including the 'good guys', but it was still engaging and I wanted to find out what happened to them.
The Blinds doesn't appear to be available in print in the UK until 2018,
 which is why I read it on an e-reader.

(the BBC's North America Editor).  I heard Jon Sopel on the radio discussing this book and I knew it
would be one I would want to read.  Many of us (millions of us?) are currently fascinated by what's happened in American politics over the last few years.  In this insightful portrait of American life and politics, the author sets out to answer our questions about a country that once stood for the grandest of dreams but which is now mired in a storm of political extremism, racial division and increasingly perverse beliefs.

Conclave by Robert Harris is set in Rome after the death of the Pope, with 118 Cardinals gathering
to elect a successor to lead the Roman Catholic Church.  This is one of the two I have waiting to be read and I'm hoping it will be as good as previous novels I've read by Harris (Fatherland 
and The Ghost to name two).   

Diary of a Wartime Affair by Doreen Bates is the second of the two books I have waiting to be read, and is the story of a long and, at times, complicated 
love affair with an older, married man.  Who also happened to be a work colleague. 
 The diary came to publication through the endeavours of Bates's children and sister,
 and I'm curious to know how things worked out for her.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Hard is Hard

Right now, we have a lot going on.  Just like any other family.
  Just like you.  But it does feel like there's more than usual.
  Probably because there is.
Many years ago, a counsellor told me that comparing my/our difficulties to those of others was pointless.  Who's to say that my/our struggles are in anyway less, or more, than someone else's?
How do we even measure struggle?
Struggles are hard; they're meant to be.
That's why they're called struggles.
Well-meaning family/friends/acquaintances tell me, "Chin up!  It could be worse!"
Well, yes, of course it could be.  I know that. 
How come when you're happy, no-one ever says, "Chin up!  So-and-so is happier than you are!"?
Sometimes I find myself woe-is-me-ing - I can't do this any more.  I don't want to do this any more -  
but I should be thinking, "why not me/us?" instead of "why me/us?"

Hard is hard.  Struggles are struggles.
Experiences are different for everyone.
Comparison is pointless.   
Perhaps we should all compare and judge less.

Wouldn't that be nice. 

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

A Scrapbook as a Gift

We wanted to give the friends who'd invited us a Marrakech
a personalised thank-you gift.
Which meant a scrapbook.
Naturally. 
I chose a 6x8 album and filled it assorted sizes of page protectors,
some of which I trimmed down to get the exact size I was looking for.
 I kept the journaling to a minimum, letting the photos speak for themselves,
and I added opaque envelopes filled with smaller prints, just to mix things up a little. 
We handed the gift over at the weekend,
 and I forgot to take a single photo of the occasion. 
But I can tell you is that it was received very happily.
Which is always good. 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

LSNED | Days 11-15

11 September: 
The arrival of Season 3 of Outlander on Amazon Prime makes me happy.

12 September: 
Sometimes, all you need to be is a good listener.

13 September: 
Sometimes, showing up is what's important.
The Boy Child turned out for the Year 6 football (soccer) team trial,
knowing in his heart of hearts that it was highly unlikely
that he would be selected.

14 September:
It's not too early for planning and issuing invitations to a Christmas party.

15 September:
How you gift wrap a present can make a difference.
The humblest of gifts look a million dollars when paired with tissue paper
and cellophane.  (Basket optional, but I counted it as part of the gift).

See Days 6-10 here.
See Days 1-5 here.

Monday, 18 September 2017

This Weekend I ...

Saturday began early with a visit to Dawnosaurs at the 
Natural History Museum in South Kensington.  
If only all early mornings began with views like this.
 We took our first glimpse at Hope, the newly installed blue whale
in the museum's Hintze Hall.  While impressive, we didn't feel
as though she had the same impact as Dippy used to.
 The boy Child blended in with the background.
And he's found a way to let us know when he's reached his full level.

How was your weekend?

Friday, 15 September 2017

Time Flies

When The Boy Child returned to school,
it came with the knowledge that he was beginning his 
final year of primary education.
 Ahead of us lies countless meetings with countless professionals,
each with their own opinion and agenda, over the decision
 of where The Boy Child goes in September 2018.
But for now, I'm revisiting Shimelle's 4x6 Photo Love series from 2011,
 placing seven photos from seven Septembers onto one 12x12 page.
 and wondering where the years have gone.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Camp Nou

Earlier this week,  I mentioned that we had visited Camp Nou recently.
For those of you who may not know what it is, it's the home of Barcelona Football Club.
As it's the largest football stadium in Europe, it's a tourist destination in its own right.
 There's plenty to keep the non-footie fan interested, and although parts of the tour
were incredibly busy, I'd say it's worth an hour of two of your time.
 The Boy Child loved it and rated it 5*.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

LSNED | Days 6-10

6 September:
Going to the hairdresser can be like a therapy session in reverse.
All I have to do is listen.
I'm used to him talking for 45 minutes of more, barely pausing for breath
or allowing me to get a word in edge-ways.
Strangely, I find it quite relaxing.

7 September:
Five years can go by in a flash.
How can I be applying for The Boy Child's 3rd passport in ten years?

8 September: 
Accepting the offer to test drive a new car for the weekend can be fun.
There's no cost involved us and it doesn't commit us to anything.  

9 September:
Spontaneity can be over-rated!
Checking that someone is home when you find yourself near their house
is probably the best way to proceed.

10 September: 
Attempting to match up a pair of wardrobes
 twenty years apart was never going to work.

See Days 1-5 here.



Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Weekend Retreat | What Did I Make?

Aside from all but finishing the Traveler's Notebook about our exploits in Sapin,
I managed to make a whopping 11 scrapbook pages over the course of two days! 
Four were 12x12 pocket pages, three were 8.5x11 (a size I'd challenged myself to produce) 
and the remainder were 12x12
(three were double-page spreads and one was a single-page spread).
 That's what I call a productive weekend. 
Jemma, the brilliant organiser of the weekend, issued challenges throughout Friday evening 
and Saturday.  They were great icebreakers and allowed us all to admire each other's work. 
I'd turned up with approximately twenty sets of photos that I naively expected to adhere
to cardstock during the weekend.  It really had been a long time since my last weekend retreat,
as I'd forgotten to factor in the time spent chatting, drinking tea and eating cake.  Doh.
But that amount gave me plenty of scope to match photos with each challenge. 
  I knew that The Boy Child would love a double-page spread about our visit to Camp Nou,
and I was right.  He said it was best thing I did all weekend! 
And in case you were wondering, the title is in Catalan and translates as More Than a Club


Monday, 11 September 2017

This Weekend I ...

... spent a lot of the time in a car.
Not our car, I might add, but one that we were offered the use of ...
for the whole weekend.
We took advantage and headed out of town
to the beauty that is the Chilterns.
If only the weather had played ball.

Friday, 8 September 2017

One Photo | Twenty Words

September is the month for teal toes.
A poignant reminder and a silent tribute 
to the memory of beloved Marti.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Learn Something New Everyday | Days 1-5

Hello, September!
The Season of mist and mellow fruitfulness is approaching. It also means that Shimelle is running her annual class, Learn Something New Everyday.  Looking through my blog archives, it appears that I last participated in 2009and even then, I'd held it over to complete in December. (Do take a peek, The Boy Child was adorable as a not quite-four-year old.)

During the weekend retreat there was chat about who might be taking part this year. My initial response had been, "No, not this year.  I have enough outstanding/ongoing projects."  But then life, as its wont, gave me a nudge, and I found myself making notes on Sunday evening about what I'd learned (learnt?) over the weekend. I'm recording my September lessons here on the blog, although I may yet transfer the journaling and accompanying photos to a Traveler's Notebook

1 September:
Me time isn't indulgent.  A residential weekend crop isn't selfish.  It enabled me to spend quality time with my oldest friend, reconnect with blog friends in person (Alison and Becky)
and meet the friends I hadn't made yet (Alexa and Missus Wookie).

2 September:
It needn't be competitive.  Two days spent in the company of amazingly talented women
proved that.  We all love the same hobby, yet no-one acted as though they needed to be the best
in the room.  All were willing to share tools, stash, tips and experience.  I loved that!  Here's to uplifting and empowering women!

3 September:
Good friends are worth keeping!  Ain't that the truth.  She and I are heading towards
our 28th year of friendship.  I love her.  She's the sister I chose for myself. 

4 September:
For The Boy Child, trust and familiarity are key.
His hair has only ever been cut by one hairdresser and now, after 8 years or more,
The Boy Child allows him to wash his hair pre-cut.

5 September:
Never underestimate how nervous and anxious The Boy Child can become.
He may be in his third year of attending his school, but now he's in Year 6.
A year full of new experiences, expectations and the looming spectre 
of another new school this time next year.






   

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Back to School | Year 6

And as it ends, it also begins.
Summer holidays are over
and the adventure of Year 6 is waiting ...

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Traveler's Notebook | Spain | Complete

One thing that I was determined to complete during the weekend retreat 
was my Traveler's Notebook about our recent visit to Spain.
See that cake?  It was made by one of the delegates 
and it was there on my work space as an incentive/reward for me finishing the TN. 
 It was a Chocolate Orange cupcake and it was delicious.
I may have had more than one, but don't tell. 
 As it turned out, I didn't quite finish it up, as I remembered that
I'd run of journaling cards on our penultimate day in Barcelona.
 And what with having visitors arrive the day after our return to UK,
I haven't got around to writing the last entry.  But I will. 
 I think I've mentioned it previously, but I'm a convert to the humble TN.
It's the perfect size for taking away with you on your travels,
and it takes no time to add the photos on your return. 

Monday, 4 September 2017

This Weekend I ...

... indulged my love of scrapbooking, in a room full of like-minded ladies 
... and it was amazing!
There'll be more later this week about  the sort of things I made/produced,
but let me share the venue with you first.
We were based on the glorious campus of the
Royal Agricultural University in Gloucestershire.
It was so gorgeous that I immediately began hankering after undergraduate life,
 and if they ever introduce a course called Paper Conservation,
then I'm there!