So. I’ve never read a Danielle Steel book before. I know! How is that even possible! She has written so so many.
This book, Blue, was given to me in my stocking and I’ve just finished it. I thought I’d write up a little review of how I found it.
I got through it very quickly, it was definitely a story that I got into, and cared about the two main characters, Blue and Ginny. It wasn’t what I would class as chic lit, these two characters find each other and overcome challenges from their past.
Was there anything I didn’t like about it? Yes. I felt like the history of each of the characters was repeated again and again and again. It made me feel like the storyteller is assuming I am a bit dim and have forgotten this.
Would I read another of Danielle Steel’s novels? Yes. There is no question that overall I enjoyed this. It was quite an easy read, so I will probably pick up another of her books later in the year.
In terms of books, I am trying to up my reading this year and have recently bought:
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
So there will be little reviews of each of those coming as and when I work my way through them.
If you have any recommendations for me, please let me know. I’ll always game to try a new author, or genre.
Yes, I’m one for New Year’s resolutions. I rarely manage to keep to them through the year but I love setting out with good intentions and don’t worry too much that they don’t stick the whole twelve months.
This year I hope to:
See more of my friends and say yes more
Get involved with the Brighton Belles WI
Put together a reading list of 12 books I want to read this year and manage one a month
Be mindful of my choices
Mind the pennies
Think about my priorities before spending
Paying off our car etc.
This year is just another year, but a new year is as good an excuse as any to set yourself new goals and challenges. What are your resolutions?
Earlier this month we headed up to outer London in search of some winter magic. I have wanted to visit the Warner Brothers Studio Tour for ages and ages. Having set my heart on visit which it’s decked out for Christmas I finally remembered to book tickets back in August.
I had read of some reviews that it can be busier in the afternoon, so booked a morning tour. The wait was still fairly long, around 40 minutes. Deceptively, it was split into waiting outside, waiting inside and then waiting in some sort of strange viewing/holding room.
The great hall set up was amazing, with the tables laden with food and the Christmas trees decorated for each school house.
I posted the photo above on my Instagram account and got mixed reactions because ‘we didn’t enjoy butter beer’. I wanted to like it. I tried, ok? It wasn’t for me. It doesn’t mean you won’t like it.
I loved it all. Can you tell? I am a pretty big HP fan, I can’t help it, I grew up with it, read and re read all the books, loved the films. Not necessarily cool for a 29 year old but you gotta do you.
It’s no secret that I am a homebody. I love being in my own space and I spend a reasonable amount of time thinking about how I can make our flat more homely.
There are a few spots and things around our home that I am a bit in love with at the moment and I thought I’d share them, if only to serve as a reminder for myself the next time I wonder about updating things.
Our Drinks trolley
This trolley was in my parents home; my mum found it in a second hand store back in the 80s. It’s been in their dining room as a side board, and in their hall as a table and now it’s joined us. We use it to store our wine glasses and spirits. On top there is a lamp that I’ve ‘borrowed’ from my mum and some famed bits, including a family portrait of my great grandparents and my grandfather as a little boy.
Eames Style Chairs
The collection is growing a little; it started with a white DSW from Jack, and was more recently added to with this White DAW and a Padded RAR Rocker. I think, if you are curious, they are all from Lakeland Furniture.
Our Dining Table
When we moved in together a few years ago, it was around my birthday and my mum asked me what I would like. I said some money towards a table and chairs. Instead she took my to Home from Home store in Haywards Heath and let me choose a set. I love the kind of country kitchen chairs and tables, that you can probably find in so many people’s home.
My Dressing Table
It is my favourite of my gumtree finds, and maybe the most expensive (I think it was around £90) and I am very grateful to Jack for going to collect this, and all the other bits I’ve spotted on gumtree over the last two years. The Eames style chair was a birthday present from Jack last year.
After some headboard switches (via gumtree, yes I know! Again!) I’ve finally found one that I am happy with. Our divan bed was a wedding present from Jack’s parents, and we couldn’t bring ourselves to add a headboard to the cost at the time. Beds are pricey!
My favourite winter linen is woodland creatures in white and grey from Primark, and our waffle throw from John Lewis. Yes, that hot water bottle is useless, it’s so small! If only *someone* would get a me a grownup sized one for Christmas…
I cannot wait to get out all the Christmas decorations next weekend. I’ve just about managed to hold off on decorating too early. I know some people go full on in November, but I think Jack would disown me.
Do you have your decorations up yet? Or are you waiting for December patiently too?
I must have been given this book at Christmas at least two years ago, and it has been sitting on my bookshelf waiting for it’s moment. And a last week that moment finally arrived.
One Moment, One Morning by Sarah Rayner is a sad and moving story which follows three women over the course of a week. I really don’t want to spoil it for you, but thoroughly recommend it is added to your reading list. It’s a wonderful reflection of life and the struggles people face.
Now what to read next? I’m always looking for new recommendations, so if you have any please pop them in a comment for me!
So if you know me personally or follow me on Instagram you will have seen that Jack and I recently visited Copenhagen for a couple of days. It’s a city that has been on my visit list for a couple of years and in the summer we both decide 2016 was the year for it, so we booked a stay for Autumn half-term.
Where we stayed
When we were looking for places to stay, as usual we took a look at TripAdvisor, because all the blog posts in the world aren’t going to help me see reviews, ranking and a price comparison between over 100 hotels.
We settled on Hotel Alexandra, and stayed in their standard double room which was around £90 per night. We booked through booking.com via the Avios website, because we are busy collecting points these days in the hope to aid our future travels.
The room was a great base, not massive but comfy and a good nights sleep. The hotel hallways and lounge were beautifully put together and if you like mid century design, you’d enjoy a stay here.
The hotel has a environmental policy, and to encourage guests to participate they reward you with a DKK100 voucher towards the honest bar or restaurant, instead of having you room totally cleaned each day of your stay. We took advantage of that, see wine above.
Where did we eat
We arrived around lunch so headed into the city centre to hunt some food. We did have a snoop again on Trip Advisor, as we’ve been known to eat in some dud restaurants on our travels, and we found ourselves outside Café Norden.
O my goodness! This place was so lovely, the food was delicious. It wasn’t super obvious if you could just grab a table, so initally we hovered downstairs, so if you go, head upstairs – it’s massive – and grab a table and then order at the bar. They have english menus behind the bar so ask if you want one, it made ordering much much easier!
People did warn us: Copehagen is expensive to eat out. To give you an idea, my triple veggie burger and Jack’s open sandwich platter (Smørrebrød) were just over £20 each. So be prepared before you go!
For dinner I had booked an early table (6:30pm) at Almanak, as I had read some good reviews before we’d set off on our trip. It is a beautiful setting and just around the corner from the gorgeous Nyhavn canel, so I would recommend a lunchtime visit so you can visit both.
We didn’t choose to have breakfast included at the hotel, so that we would be forced to get out and explore. Thankfully there a lot of bakeries in Copehagen and a short walk from our hotel we found Lagkagehuset, which is a prolific chain which you can find throughout the city.
Mid morning we had been walking for two hours or so and got pretty peckish so snuck into the Lounge area of Hotel Guldsmeden Babette, for a cup of tea and half a panini each. It was a really lovely space, sofa, rugs, books, candles.
Lunch was our most low key of the trip, at Friends & Brgrs, which was actually way better than I thought it would be from street level. I have no idea when or how the deal works but when we were there on the Thursday it was 2 for 1, so best value meal of the three days. Also Chipotle Mayo…
Dinner that evening was pizza at a restaurant recommended by our hotel, which was just a street away: The Italian. It was a good pizza for each of us, if you are after an easy meal this was it. Walking distance back to our hotel won, after a day of lots and lots of walking.
O my goodness the rain on our third day in Copenhagen was epic. We scurried to the 2nd best bakery in the city: Andersen Bakery. No, I’ve no idea what the pastries I had were, but they were delicious.
Something to note is that you need to get a table before you can order in. So if you want to sit in, go grab a seat and then go up to order.
Lunch was in a museum, yes you read that right. As I said, it was raining a lot on the Friday so we hid in the National Gallery of Denmark for most of our final afternoon. The café there is at the back in a massive modern extension, which had a gorgeous view out over the surroundings.
We had left our bags at the hotel, as checkout was at 11am, so on our wander back, once the rain had slowed we walked the long way back a snuck in one last pastry. One of my recommendations for anyone visiting the city would be to visit Torvehallerne, which is an awesome indoor market. One half is more of a food shopping market with delicatessens and butchers etc. and the other is brimming with lovely cafe’s a tiny eateries.
Inside we stopped at Laura’s Bakery. 1. because my name’s Laura so… and 2. see the photo below.
Seriously good pastries!
This was our last morsel before heading to the airport in plenty of time. Yes, we did have dinner at the airport and yes it was good, but I draw the line a meal photography, and that didn’t pass.
Now. You could mistakenly assume that we just sat around in various restaurants and cafés and saw very little of the city. But you would be wrong. We walked around the city a lot. On our sunny Thursday we clocked up 16miles of walking.
I recommend packing your comfiest sneakers and going for a walk. So many of the streets are cobbled, or paved that sensible shoes are a must.
We had an awesome couple of days, I do wish I has packed a bigger brolly (which I lost whilst there) and I am glad I took full winter garb, mitten and all. We didn’t hit up Tivoli Gardens whilst we were there, Jack doesn’t like theme parks and I don’t like going on rides alone, but it look amazing, so if you are keen definitely give it a go!
We’re off to Bruges in Belgium next, for a little Christmas market/8 year anniversary weekend before Christmas, so if you have any recommendations for us I am all ears!
Autumn. I bloomin’ love it. I know I’ve mentioned that before.
I love the changing leaves. Apparently I love travelling into central London to see some changing of the leaves. Because last Monday that’s what we did, and it was such a lovely afternoon, wandering around Kew gardens.
The Hive was pretty cool. I imagine it is at it’s best when the meadow flowers are in bloom.
Some things to note:
Take the free map, you will need it, it’s a big old space, with lots of different areas to explore.
The amazing Evolution House is currently closed for a massive restoration project and will remain closed until 2018. It is the largest surviving victorian glasshouse and the restoration project (if completed on time) will take five years in total. It was a shame not be able to look around this awesome building but I guess we will just have to go back.
You can picnic here. You do not need to buy lunch on site. We didn’t plan ahead and spent over £20 on some sandwich and drinks. Learn from my mistake folks.
I’d love to visit again in spring to see the blooms start. If you get the chance I’d totally recommend a wander around, there are loads of details about how, when, where and how much on the Kew website.
Do you have any recommendation for UK spots I should check out? Are you a garden wanderer or a national trust fan?
One of the two gig tickets I bought for us for my gift to Jack for year one of marriage (paper) was to see Jamie Lawson at Brighton Dome.
I really enjoyed our evening. I don’t know that Jack would necessarily choose it as a gig of choice, as we described the audience as a mix of Radio 2 listeners, us included.
I’ll admit it, I’d really only heard his single ‘Wasn’t expecting that’ before I booked the tickets, but I really enjoyed his other material, especially some of the new songs that are potentially coming out on his next album.
Have you been to see anyone recently? Got any recommendations for my ‘to listen to’ list?
If you’ve not donated because you’re not sure if you can there is lots of information about who can here on the Blood.co.uk website. A quick overview:
Most people can give blood. You can give blood if you:
are fit and healthy
weigh over 7 stone 12 lbs or 50kg
are aged between 17 and 66 (or 70 if you have given blood before)
are over 70 and have given blood in the last two years
Men can give blood every 3 months and women can give blood every 4 months.
If you are wondering about the 3 vs 4 months, I think it’s related to the speed with which women regenerate blood, but don’t quote me on that. Google it.
What’s the donation process like?
Now, the actual donation, is a you might expect: a needle in your arm for a while, whilst you lie back and count ceiling tiles.
The overall process is a little longer, and it’s important to remember that the staff are doing their best and it’s a great thing to do. The sessions I have been to in the last near decade have always been fully booked and running around 20 minutes late.
Register online and book an appointment. Don’t just show up. They want you, but they won’t have space on the night.
You’ll get a form sent to you in the post about your current health, and recent travel. Try to fill this in before you get these and have it ready to hand in. Makes things much quicker.
Drink lots of water and do not skip meals on the day of your donation.
Take a book or a mag. There might be some there, but there are no guarantees you’ll find one you want to read.
Have a biscuit and a drink after. They are free, and will help you on your way home. No one wants you feeling faint!
Book another appointment before you leave!
There is way way more information about what happens, the health screening, after your donation and what lovely donor card you’ll receive on the website here.
If you have any questions at all about donating, I’m not a nurse and my own experience is only as a donor but I’d be happy to answer.
So on Sunday we took our very first trip to the Duke of York picturehouse, which in case you are interested currently (according to wikipedia) “lays claim to being the oldest cinema in continuous use in Britain.”
I’ll just skip quickly past the awkward moments when several different people thought I worked there and asked me to check the tickets as I waited for Jack to buy a coffee, and get right to the film.
Yes, I did read the book. Devoured it. I was totally gripped!
Spoiler: I also enjoyed the film.
I don’t want to ruin the plot, because I do think you should go and watch it for yourself. I’ve heard others say they didn’t like the flow, or that it was set in the USA and on the USA point I still agree, I think I would’ve enjoyed it more if it was in the same setting as it was in my mind, i.e. the UK.
There were bits when the entire sold-out audience were noticeably on edge. There were collective gasps and shudders, which I think is testament to it being a good watch.
Shortest least informative review over. Go and watch it. If you want.