Merry Christmas to you all!

Christmas is here…

…and tonight Santa will  be doing his rounds and dropping off those bundles of gifts and leaving them under the tree for us to find on Christmas morning (“please let them be book-shaped, please let them be book-shaped”).

On this most magical evening of the year, I wish you all (and your families) a wonderful time together over the holidays. Enjoy your time together, eat lots and read lots and don’t forget to leave out some carrotts for the reindeers…

 

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

 

Back from my Greek paradise

The most amazing time ever

I am back from two weeks of pure heaven on the Greek island of Kefalonia (sob). Two weeks of chilling, reading, swimming, eating, exploring.

We stayed on the Ionian island of Kefalonia but we also did some island hopping and made it over to four other islands – Ithaca, Meganissi, Lefkada and Skorpios (the island that Aristotle Onasis bought for Jackie Kennedy Onasis). We hired boats and found secluded beaches and coves, we drove over mountains and swam in the sea, we sat in cafes on the seafront in little fishing villages and we lay round the pool in the sun.

I will be posting about the books I read (I managed to get plenty of reading in alongside the exploring) in a few days but for now I will leave you with some piccies of my amazing holiday.

Pool at our villa

Boat trip round the coast

Taverna at sunset

Our pool

Our pool and gardens

Secluded cove

Beach on Kefalonia

Jackie Kennedy Onasis' house

Beach on Ithaca

RIP my postman…

No, he isn’t dead but it is still a sad day indeed…….

It breaks my heart to even write this, but my suspicions have been confirmed – my lovely postman, that happy-chappy, deliverer of big brown, book-shaped parcels on an almost daily basis, is no more………

I had suspected as much when I started discovering little red and white  pieces of card in my mailbox instead of said book-shaped parcels. These little red and white pieces of card were from the Royal Mail asking me to go into the sorting office in town and pick up the parcels myself! Not only that, but I had to wait a minimum of 24 hours (sometimes 48!!!!) hours before I could collect them. *swoons in a faint*. Do you have any idea what torture that is for a book-lover?  Of course you do.

Early readers of my blog will remember these posts (here and here) I did about my lovely postman back when I started blogging and parcels of books started arriving. Ever since our relationship was cemented over a brown paper package, I have been like an excited dog waiting for its master to come home whenever I hear him come up the garden path. There I stand, wagging my tail and salivating over the contents that are about to spill out on to my kitchen worktop. He probably just thinks I’m a wierdo but who cares? I got me new books!!

Anyway, at first I thought that maybe my lovely postman was on holiday and business would be resumed as normal in a few days. But no 😦

Yesterday I was out and about and I saw him! “Mr Postman!” I yelled from across the street, “Where have you been?” This is now a solemn moment as I tell you that he has……….. changed routes. Please pause for a moment of silence, if you will.

 

  *pause*

 

Now, I am sure that my new postman will soon get the hang of not making me go all the way into town for my parcels. Indeed, old postman promised that he had told new postman to leave my books in the recycling bin for me and lo and behold yesterday there was one sticking out of the letterbox when I got home. That’s more like it: I feel that this could be the start of another beautiful relationship.

So, much as I will miss the dulcit yorkshire tones of my old postmans “morning, love!” let’s end by celebrating the beginning of a new partnership – he brings me books and I beam from ear to ear like a lunatic. Lovely 🙂

 

 

Edit/ Check out what message that cheeky Mr Whisperer left underneath:

“I have it on good authority that he requested a new route, as his entire basic salary was being spent on chiropractic treatment due to the volume, weight and frequency of deliveries to our home address! Mr (the long suffering) Whisperer.”

 

Four things about me

  Some fun for the weekend

I’ve just read this post over at Stu from Winstonsdad’s Blog and who in turn had read it on a few others, and I love getting to know the people behind the blogs I read so I thought I’d share mine too:

  Four jobs I’ve had in my life:

1) I currently work as a Business Manager at a global information company which is cool because I get to work from home when I am not out in client meetings (I’m not very good at being tied to an office chair so arranging my own diary and having varied weeks suits me just fine)

2) I was a chef in Cyprus once, which is ironic because I HATE cooking!

3) I worked on a moshav in Israel, in the dessert on the edge of the Joradanian mountains, picking cherry tomatos and clearing melon fields in the blazing hot sun

4) I was a chambermaid in a hotel in Cornwall (I apologise if you ever stayed in Newquay in the summer of 1992 – I was young, bored, wanted to be out partying instead and I used to spray on your perfume!)

  Four books I would read over and over:

1) Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (the setting, the characters…..I was there!)

2) Life of Pi by Yann Martel (won’t leave my head even 7 years later)

3) Animal Farm by George Orwell (amaing book! I laughed, I cried)

4) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (a true classic – I love this book!)

  Four places I have lived:

1) Yorkshire (where I grew up and where I live again now)

2) High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

3) Cardiff, Wales

4) Ra’anana, Israel (about 20 mins north of Tel Aviv) where I lived for a year as an Au Pair

 

  Four books I would recommend:

1) The Magus by John Fowles (read it, read it, read it!!!)

2) The Help by Kathryn Stockett (wonderful book)

3) The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (massive romp of a read & such fun!)

4) Wild Swans by Jung Chang (moving, incredible, unbelievable, touching, amazing……)

  Four places I have been:

1) China – I’m fascintated by all things China so this was like a dream come true

2) Iceland – one of the most breathtaking places I have ever been

3) Morocco – the food, the atmosphere, the sights and smells

4) Indonesia – the islands of Bali and Lombok for our honeymoon

 

  Four favourite foods:

1) Mr Whisperer’s chile con carne – YUM!!!!

2) Strawberries dipped in melted chocolate – heaven

3) My sister-in-laws passion fruit pavlova – melt in the mouth

4) Mr Whisperer’s fresh pasta pesto – proper italian flavours

 

  Four favourite drinks:

1) Coffee (hot, strong and often!)

2) Lemon Fanta (reminds me of being on holdiay)

3) Peach belini – another holiday drink

4) Water (plain, simple and thirst quenching)

 

  Four places I’d rather be right now:

1) In bed (with a book naturally)

2) In a bookshop

3) Lying round a pool in a remote part of Kefalonia (Greek Island) like I will be in 35 sleeps! 🙂

4) In a log cabin on  lake by some mountains reading a good book

  Four special things in my life:

1) Mr Whisperer – the love of my life who graciously (most of the time) puts up with my rather obsessive book habbit

2) My cats – Phoebe and Princess Saffy are my babies and reading companions

3) My family – mine and Mr Whisperer’s

4) My books – don’t touch them without permission, don’t ask to borrow them unless invited and definitely don’t put them back in the wrong place!!!

  What would be your top fours?

 

A bookish week in pictures

Question:

What’s better than eleven days off work with the sun shining and spending time with family, at friends BBQ’s, reading on beaches and book shopping with bibliophile friends?

Answer:

Not much!


First stop – London. I was due to meet two bookish friends at Trafalgar Square but I got there early and grabbed myself a coffee and sat with my book in the blazing hot sun while I waited.

After walking round what felt like the whole of London in 30°C heat and visiting various historical landmarks (including the Tower of London) we finally made it (wearily) to Waterstones in Picadilly which is the largest bookshop in Europe and set on 6 floors. It was a lovely airconditioned respite after our days trecking but despite all those tempting gems stretching for miles, my feet would not allow me to do much else apart from collapse in one of the chairs and watch while Tisha and Kirsty loaded their arms with bookish goodies. I did manage to pick up a couple of things though (I was tired, not dead!)

The next morning I headed off to Marylebone to check out Daunt which I have been dying to go to for ages (all the books are categorsied by country which satisfies both my book geek and culture geek).

After 2-3 hours blissful browsing (and buying :)) in Daunt I headed over the road to sit at an outdoor table in the sun at an Italian restaurant to admire my purchases, read my Kindle and eat a big fat pizza!

Next stop: West Sussex on the coast for 5 days with Mr Whisperer’s family. Lots of fun (and managed to sneak in some reading on the beach too :))

Next stop: My parents back garden for lunch al fresco

Final stop: Pugneys Lake near where I live for a picnic and reading.

A brilliant week and ½ off work. Lots of sun, fun and reading. Hope you all had great bank holidays too?

 

Tomorrow I will be showing piccies of my new goodies!

 

Bookshops in London – advice please

Pussy cat, pussy cat where have you been?

OK, I haven’t been to see the Queen, but I am going to London on Friday.I’m going to meet two lovely bookish friends, Tisha and Kirsty (one from California and one from Manchester) whom I have been part of an book group on Goodreads for the last 3 years with. We met up last year when Tisha was over from America and she’s over again this week so we are all excited to meet up for gossip, sightseeing and (of course) book shopping.

This is where you come in:

What bookshops do I absolutely need to visit in London? It would be a crime not to check out some of these lovely bookshops that I keep hearing about on people blogs (but always forget to write down). There are a few in particular I would like to go to if possible: one is a shop that has books from or set in all the different countries in the world, another is one in Notting Hill but I can’t remember what either of them are called.

Which are your favourite London bookshops? Which ones can I absolutely not leave London without visiting?

Unsuitable books for teenagers

Move away please……nothing to see here!

I came across this article in the Guardian written by author Patrick Ness (The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer etc) in which he talks about books that are meant for adults but seem to hold so much more appeal for teenagers (especially as adults don’t appear to like teens reading them!).

Some of the books he includes in his list are The Catcher in the Rye, The Stand, Dracula and The Virgin Suicides (the latter I would most definitely had tried to get my mitts on aged 13 had it been around then – oh the allure of that title and the  curiosity!). This then got me thinking about books I read as a teenager and what books had me blushing into my soda stream.

Back in the day, pre-Edward Cullen, pre-Katniss Everdene and not a fallen angel in sight, what on earth did we used to read to help us navigate our way round those strange and confusing teenage years when there wasn’t such a thing as YA books (remember those days?):

 

  Exhibit #1 – falling in love

Yes, were I a teen today my boyfriend longing may look very different: for a start the object of my desires would probably either have fangs, wings or change into a big hairy dog during a full moon. Back in the day though, I wanted me a nice boy!

At about the age of 14 I became a massive fan of Maeve Binchy (I haven’t read any of her books since I was a teen so I am curious about what I might think today). The one I really loved was Echoes about a girl from a large family with not much money who lives on the coast of Ireland. Clare was the only girl in this family and she studied hard, to the bemusement of her family, as she wanted to make something of herself. Up the road, in a large house, lived David, a few years older than Clare and the only son of a well-to-do family. David fell in love with Clare and…..oh, how I wished I was her! This was SO romantic and I longed for it to be me (or at least for a nice boy to fall in love with from a distance and then declare his undying love for me……swoon!)

 

 

  Exhibit #2 – sex

My best friend Claire found a copy of  If Tomorrow Comes by Sidney Sheldon and promptly navigated  me straight to the “dirty bits”. Boy did this book give me a rude awakening in the world of sex – and not the sort that Maeve Binchy would have written, but proper adult sex! I can vividly remember being shocked but also laughing my head off (in embarassment? in fear? in longing? who knows…) I’m sure whatever was written in that book is pretty tame and I’m sure it would be a massive let down where I to read it again today, but back then it was practically pornographic!

 

 

  Exhibit #3 – pregnancy out of wedlock

Perhaps I lead a sheltered younger life, more probably I was very lucky to come from a family where both parents were together and my friends all came from the same backgrounds too. Put it this way, I didn’t come across many people who a) were single parents or b) had a baby out of wedlock or c) both. So when Claire (are you seeing a trend here?) introduced me to The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Read Banks….well!

When I read this book aged about 15, for me it was all about the shock of someone moving into their own little flat and having a baby on their own (without being married). I don’t remember much else about the book, just being ulta-curious about the (then) taboo of being pregnant and alone at a time when my teenage head was trying to work out how my future might look. It was a real eye-opener, was this book.

I actually have a copy of this book again, 24 years later, and plan to read it again soon to see what my take on it would be now.

 

 

    Exhibit #4 – honourable mentions

I can’t end this post without mentioning some of the other “grown-up” books that crossed my teenage path:

The Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews – did anyone NOT read this as a teenager? I read this book several times back then and swiftly followed it with Petals on the Wind and If There be Thorns.

Firestarter by Stephen King – I can remember being more obsessed with the fact that while in the experiment room, people pissed themselves. This was my first foray into the nature of human psychology and the lenghts people will go to (and take). It frightened me, but I couldn’t put it down.

 

 

So, that was a fun old blast from the past for me. Did you read any of these either as a teenager or later on? What books can you remember hiding under your covers when you were 13?