Friday, 13 April 2012


I started this blog last year, and began to really focus on it in December while I was off work for some time following an operation. It was something to help pass the time in a bettering-the-self kind of way; it's improved my knowledge of website building/languages from nonexistent to barely-existent, and it's helped me to focus on certain interests and areas of my life that I wanted to develop - such as the books I've read, new skills I've learned, and my goals for the year.

However. As much as I enjoy writing for this blog when I have the time, now that I'm healed from my op and leaving the house more, I don't feel like it's as necessary to me any more. At this point in my life, I would rather be out having fun with friends than thinking of things to write about here - help, I think I'm turning into an extrovert!

As much as I'd like to dedicate more time to my blog and build it up, it's becoming less of a priority for me now, so I have decided to take a bit of a break and not worry myself about finding things to write about or even finding the time to think of things to write about. I will still post every now and again, but more as a way of recording my activities and the places I visit. And, hopefully, in a year or two, I will be using this blog to record my travels around... Wherever I end up visiting. In the meantime, I will see you sporadically! (reference to Clueless because I am not sad at all)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The End of the Reading List!

I have finally finished the list of books I set myself to read at the start of the year. It's only taken me three months longer than I anticipated to get through them all. Here is a link to my posts on the previous books included in the list. As you can see from the first post, I have revised the list slightly (!) - some books I didn't read at all, while I have added a couple that were not in the first post.

Anyway, onto my thoughts about the final two books.

Dibs in Search of Self
by Virginia M. Axline

This book has been lounging on my mum's bookshelf for years and years, and I never paid it any attention until I saw a quote from it somewhere in the bowels of the internets. Intrigued, I picked up the book and read it in the space of an evening.

It's very easy to read, and a very insightful and uplifting book. Ostensibly a book on child development and behaviour, I think many people would be able to take something away from it as ultimately it's more about emotion and the self in general, and our relationships with others. It was fascinating to read the way Dibs acted out, through play, his feelings towards his parents. The only issue I had with the book was the kid's name - Dibs? Really? Why would you change the kid's name for confidentiality reasons to a name like that? It annoyed me every time I read it, it just sounded so ridiculous. 

The Well of Loneliness
by Radclyffe Hall

I realise that, at least a few years ago (perhaps not so much nowadays but I'm not so sure), mentioning this book or displaying it on your shelf was a subtle way of stating your sexual orientation to those 'in the know'. Being interested in books on sexuality/gender identity anyway, I decided to add this book to my list, as it sounded intriguing.

I have to say, though, while I appreciate it did a lot to raise awareness in the last century, I wasn't overly enamoured with it. My feelings towards it are those of a slight fondness, but it was quite angsty and melodramatic in parts, and it was basically very negative about feelings of love between anyone other than a man and a woman; as if homosexual relationships are basically doomed in some way, no matter what.

Moreover, I couldn't help comparing it to Virginia Woolf's Orlando, which was published in the same year, has similar themes, but was much more enjoyable and more my type of book. So, I don't think I will be reading The Well of Loneliness again - however, I do feel glad I have read it, and I guess it has been informative in its way. 


Now I've finished my list I'm going to take a bit of a break from reading. I'm pleased to say that I have been very good and mostly kept to my original rule of not buying any more books until I'd got through this list - I only bought one, and in my defence it was at a really cool book sale at Winchester Cathedral, and it had a beautiful cover.

Reading through this list and blogging about it has, I think, made me more analytical about the books I read - which is a good thing because I didn't used to think particularly critically about them, other than simplistic views that were barely more detailed than "it was fun to read and it had a tiger in it" (Life of Pi - which, incidentally, is one of my favourite books). I also feel like I've upped my 'knowledge-ometer' by having read quite a few of the classics - I might just have to balance that out by reading five trashy crime movels in a row (NEVER).

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

New Things in March

A bit late, but April is already proving to be a busy month - as was March, looking at my list of new things.

☼  Found a nice new (to me) drinking establishment in Leeds, the White Swan
☼  Bottle-fed newborn lambs (!!!!!)
☼  Baked banocolate muffins
☼  Went to a jazz night at a pub in Huddersfield
☼  Carried a live frog in my hands (random)
☼  Went to a nightclub all by myself
☼  Visited Winchester
☼  Visited Bristol (think I could love this city...)
☼  Ate chocolate Philadelphia + baked with it
☼  Watched two new films: Girl, Interrupted and Whip It
☼  Read four new books: Far From the Madding Crowd, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Dibs in Search of Self, and Dear John
☼  Got my car towed by a recover truck (a nerve-wracking and ultimately expensive experience... Not looking to repeat this)
☼  Took my first pictures with my Polaroid camera (they were rubbish so no scans I'm afraid)
☼  Visited East Riddlesden Hall
☼  Watched a horseball demonstration

 gratuitous lamb shot

Monday, 9 April 2012

nice things

♥ friendship bracelets. I know, I'm reverting to my 12 year old self, but my love for these simple little adornments will never cease. Ironically, last summer when they were all the rage my love for them waned, but now it's back stronger than ever. I made 7 in the space of a week, and I will wear them all the time until they drop off.

♥ chocolate Phildadelphia. Told you I wasn't going to shut up about it. It seriously is the food of the gods.

♥ Hotel Chocolat chocolate. Well, it is Easter, that's my justification for having two chocolate-related nice things this week. I bought myself a little easter egg from Hotel Chocolat as a treat to myself and ohmygosh their milk chocolate is the nicest milk chocolate I have ever had. Even nicer than Lindt, and that's a high accolade coming from me. Plus my egg came with a little pot of super-cute chicks and bunnies.
 ♥ British Summer Time. The clocks have gone forward, the evenings are getting lighter - things can only get better from here on in people!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Book List

I'm getting to the end of this list, so close! Although, I have to confess that I have cheated slightly and got rid of a few without reading them, which reduced the pile somewhat. I'm going to defend this action and say that the ones I got rid of, just didn't appeal any more; either I'd had them for so long and I'd changed my mind about the blurb on the back, or they were books I'd just acquired without any particular interest, simply because I never turn a free book down. But I realised, this New Year's resolution was still supposed to be enjoyable, so I figured it wouldn't do me any favours to keep on the list books I'm just not interested in reading.

Far From The Madding Crowd
by Thomas Hardy
It took me a while to get through this, partly due to doing other stuff, and also I just wasn't that enamoured with it. There were odd parts that were definitely beautiful, and Hardy's descriptions of the countryside and farming life are particularly evocative. However, I didn't really like the way he portrayed the characters, nor his insight into human emotions - particularly womens'. I got the impression several times throughout the book that Hardy didn't much like women or respect them, and even though Bathsheba was a really strong, self-willed, independent character, for all that I don't think she was written in a particularly likable way. 

(look at that cover! Isn't it gloriously retro?)
Lady Chatterley's Lover
by D.H. Lawrence
This book I enjoyed much more; which surprised me, as I didn't much enjoy the other D.H. Lawrence book I have read (Women In Love). It didn't seem quite so pretentious as Women In Love.
Although there was still a lot of expostulating on theories of love, class and society, it somehow fit better in this novel and didn't seem quite so obviously a vehicle for Lawrence's own theories and beliefs about life. The scenes between the two lovers were passionate, without being overly sentimental - overall, a really rather good book.

I only have three books left on my list - and two of those are ones that have been added since the start of January. I aim to have the list completed by the end of April, fingers crossed!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Outfit Post + Other Interesting Things

Hasn't the weather in the UK been wonderful recently?! I have this week off work, and for once I've timed it to coincide with this glorious weather so that I can enjoy it rather than be stuck indoors the whole time.

First outfit post in a very long time, it's been a chore getting into the habit of taking them now I'm back at work. I'm going to try to do them on a slightly more regular basis, and I have no excuse now that the evenings are lighter (British Summer Time ftw).

Hat: Matalan // Dress: Tesco // Sandals: Primark

I wore the above for a short trip to East Riddlesden Hall, a manor house not far from me. Just a simple floral dress - one of about 20 I have in my collection, no kidding. I really love these sandals that I got from Primark last week; I've been looking for a kind of simple, rustic sort of pair for ages, and once again good old Primark came up with the goods. They're real leather, and although at £12.99 they're not cheap by Primark's standards, I was prepared to pay that princely sum - we'll see how long they last though, I am pretty brutal to my shoes!

East Riddlesden Hall wasn't the most interesting of places to visit, though it was very pretty; on a day like today, it was worth the entrance fee just to walk round the grounds and get excited about green things growing (I get that excited about springtime). 

Friday, 23 March 2012

Raspberry Chocolate Cheesecake (Or, the wonder-ness that is chocolate Philadelphia)

Firstly, apologies for the recent absence. I've actually been really busy in the real world, having a social life - I know, right. I spent the week before last going out nearly every single night, which is totally unlike me - I don't remember having this many friends but I am welcoming it with open arms. I also spent the last week staying with family and having a generally excellent time all round.
Anyway. So, chocolate Philadelphia. You may have heard of it, maybe not. I feel like I need to share this with everyone I come across, like a cheesy-chocolatey missionary (snigger). It's seriously so good, it tastes like heaven. Also, I particularly love how on the tub it's making a big deal of how it's only 86 calories per serving - and then you realise that 'a serving' is like, a fifth of the tub. Whatever. Trust me, you are not going to be able to stop at a fifth of a tub once you get going.

Personally, I like scooping this stuff straight out of the tub with rich tea biscuits or Hobnobs. However, I did actually make something with it last weekend, as part of my three-course taste spectacular for Mother's Day. Okay, it was cheesecake, very original, but never mind.

Nil points for presentation, I'm afraid. As I kind of winged this I don't know any amounts, though I used about 3 biscuits per glass, and a tub-and-a-bit of Philadelphia between them.
  • Crush biscuits (your choice... Digestives are always good) in a bag with a rolling pin.
  • Melt butter in a bowl, tip biscuits into bowl and mix.
  • Press mixture into glasses and put in fridge to set.
  • Spread Philadelphia over biscuit mixture, top with whipped cream and a drizzle (does that picture look like a 'drizzle to you? Whatever) of raspberry sauce.

I then repeated Sunday's success by making a large version for my cousins whilst I was staying with them this week.. I replaced the raspberry sauce with frozen raspberries this time, which I think tasted even better. Normally frozen soft fruits aren't so nice, they seem to taste a lot more sour than their fresh counterparts; however, I think on this occasion they contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the chocolate.

Disclaimer: I haven't been paid by Philadelphia to write this post, I just think it's the best thing I've ever eaten. Feel free to shout at me if you disagree.