Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Judging a book by it's cover...

OK, I'm very aware that you shouldn't! But a chance Instagram post a couple of weeks ago, and a comment that someone made upon it, caused me to think about the books which are my favourites just because they're pretty...

I started digging some out and soon realised that it's the pretty spines which grab me (once you've finished reading it you rarely see the cover itself but the spine is there for the world to see). It's also about how the book feels in your hands (one of the main reasons why I don't have a kindle!), so here's a selection chosen for spines, how they feel and in a couple of cases the fact that they're new.

Starting at the top: 

Think - is "A compelling Introduction to Philosophy" written by Simon Blackburn - it's a lovely little thing which I've had for years and years - pretty sure I read it when I bought it but I'm tempted to read it again - can't remember if it was good or not though but I do recall that it was a nice size and shape and fitted into my bag! 

The spine of this copy of To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf has faded really badly - it was a lovely bright orange. The cover itself has a photograph of a lighthouse on which is OK but again it's a nice small size. I'm a Virginia Woolf fan so I love this one because I like the contents too...

Window Box Allotment by Penelope Bennett was absolutely bought for the cover *hides head in shame*, that and an interest in growing some veg on the patio at my old flat.

This New York City Guide book was bought before a trip to New York because we needed a guide book. It's pretty but we ended up buying the Time Out guide too (which we actually used while this stayed in the hotel room as it's a hardback - what was I thinking?). 

Ah, the Wainwright guides need no introduction - and yes it's a hardback book which you drag up a mountain with you, willingly. Looking forward to working through this best of (which isn't the prettiest of the set) with the little man when he's a bit older.

Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood - I'm also a Margaret Atwood fan but I don't think this is her best book. By far the nicest edition I have of any of her books though!

The next one was totally bought for the spine! Christmas Stories (yes the C word in September, sorry!) - I can't find it on Amazon. I really pretty book which I bought a few years ago and started but didn't finish. I do recall it containing a good Sherlock Holmes story involving a stolen swan in Brixton though which was nice.

The Dark Room by Rachel Seiffert - a first edition of a harrowing tale of three Germans during the second world war. Excellent book with a beautiful cover. 

Ah, Mrs Dalloway - my favourite book! So another Virginia Woolf - I bought this gorgeous edition at the National Portrait Gallery following their exhibition last year. My old battered paperback can now enter retirement.

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller - bought this year. It's a first novel by a friend of one of my best friends (who is also a writer). Mainly bought because she's a friend of a friend but it turned out to be a wonderful book which I couldn't put down. Looks pretty too but was a bit cumbersome on the train - look out for the paperback folks! 

And finally, the new Harper Lee - which I'm half way though. I still love Scout and I want it to get going a bit more but fear it won't - let's see! I like the cover though and the colour and typeface used are rather nice. Also a bit big for lugging around (hence I'm only half way through!). 

Do you ever buy books just because they look pretty? Or are you like me (most of the time) and just hunt out nicer looking editions of your favourites?!

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Can we have the summer back please?

I'm sitting here as the (cold) rain hammers on the window and I'm starting to dread the school run! So, back to some warmer, sunnier days in the summer.

We had two breaks during the school holidays (lucky us!) - first stop Herefordshire, second Galicia in northern Spain. To be honest the weather wasn't great for either (but A LOT nice than today!). Here are a few of my photos...

Thursday, 10 September 2015

In the Garden - Before and After

Our garden has been a work in progress for a while. We had a little patio garden at our old flat and looking after it was a keen hobby of mine. But then we moved here and got a bigger garden, but also had a baby and it was neglected.

Two years ago we took the plunge and paid a garden designer to sort it out for us. The theory being that once the bulk of the initial work was completed (and I'd handed over a fair bit of money!) I'd have the incentive to spend time out there myself - and it worked!

So here are some before and after pics for you (as I know how you like that sort of thing!). We start with a couple of days after we moved in...

A bit scrubby. A couple of dominating trees - we still have the pear tree on the right but the almond on the left had to come out as it was nearly dead. Perfectly acceptable deck at the back, a tatty shed and a brick built barbecue. Some of the plants were nice but quite a lot of them were in the wrong place. The lawn was also a bit of an odd shape. 

The day after the new plants went in (2 years ago)...

The lawn was reshaped (you can clearly see which are the new bits!), the shed and barbecue went. Old plants were moved around and lots of new ones added. The bush on the left was cut down from 6' plus tall to waist height and looked much better. 

2 months later...

With a freshly jet washed patio and a coat of black paint to the back fence. 

Then fast forward to this year...

I'm so happy with how it's filled out (and how quickly). It doesn't take masses of looking after - I just mow the lawn, and trim the edges once a week or so and go around with a hoe to do the weeding. Every few weeks we have to cut back a load of stuff that's becoming overgrown but that's pretty much it! This summer we added a few pots to the patio with bedding plants, agapanthus etc in too.

Last summer we bought the new patio set for the deck from John Lewis and we're really pleased with how it looks against the black fence (which actually needs repainting now).

So I have the gardening bug again and the little man seems to have caught it too! As you can see we had a go at sunflowers this year (they've only just come out in this last week) and we tried some veg in pots on the deck as well, but they were mostly eaten by slugs and snails - we did get a good meal's worth of potatoes though so maybe we'll just fill all the pots with those next year! 

Have you transformed your garden? Or were you lucky enough to move into one that was already lovely? 

Saturday, 5 September 2015


This time last week I was at the Reading Festival for the 5th time... We only went for the day this time though (I'm still undecided about going for a camping ticket next year - I didn't really want to leave but it was quite nice getting into a warm dry car on Saturday night!). Getting old...

Anyway, we've now been in 2007, 2009 (when I was pregnant but I didn't know), 2013, 2014 and 2015. I don't have any pictures from 2007 for some reason (but the quality would probably be rubbish if I did!) - here's a selection from the other 4 years and a playlist featuring some of the best bands I've seen there - enjoy!


NME Stage 2015

Main Stage 2009 - I think Vampire Weekend were about to come on.

Thursday night sunset 2013

Lucius 2014

Main stage 2015

A very young looking me, singing 2009

Main stage 2013

Nightfall at the NME stage 2009.

Arcade Fire
The View
Jamie T
Maximo Park

Florence and the Machine
Vampire Weekend
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Kaiser Chiefs
White Lies

Frank Turner
Green Day
Deap Vally
The Family Rain

The Courteeners
Wolf Alice
Arctic Monkeys

Royal Blood

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Summer Holiday Scrapbook

Just before the school holidays started I discovered a lovely Paperchase scrapbook which I'd bought in the sale a few years ago. The little man is 5 now and I thought that he might just be ready for a bit of holiday scrapbooking (I remember doing this as a child and loving it). Mr M said it'd all end in tears (mostly mine) as the small boy wouldn't be interested, but it turned out that he was!

Armed with all of the items above, we traipsed around all of our destinations over the nearly 7 week break and recorded all sorts of things. It was also a good opportunity for him to keep practicing his writing while he was off school.

We collected postcards, leaflets, tickets, stickers and the like as we were out and about and also printed out a few photos we took to add to the book. We managed to do a page, or part of a page, almost every day. 

Do you do any holiday projects at home? I'm really pleased we stuck with this one as it's now a really good record of a (mostly!) enjoyable few weeks! 

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