Monday 30 August 2021

Packing books to take on holiday

Recently I was doing some packing for a week away, and it occurred to me that amongst the chaos of packing, many people probably don't spend as long as I do thinking about which books to take. It certainly doesn't cross my husband's mind! But almost as soon as a holiday is booked I'm thinking about its potential for reading opportunities.

Different types of holiday have different requirements. In our mid-twenties we embarked on a fantastic around the world trip and were tight on packing space. Despite all the long haul flights I packed just one book which I managed to make last for the entire trip. Granted it was a thick one - Anna Karenina by Tolstoy - but even though the battered paperback is long gone whenever I see the book title it brings back great memories of our holiday.

A week away with the family usually offers much more time for reading so I always pack at least five or six books. When we went away just before Christmas last year I raided the seasonal shelf in the library for Christmas themed books full of cosy fireside romances, hot chocolate and gingerbread. For a long flight I'll bring something easy to read and gripping enough to keep me distracted, and for a beach or pool holiday I want a cheap paperback that I don't mind getting wet!

In addition, regardless of the physical books, these days I always have my Kindle along with me (oh how I would have loved a Kindle on my round the world trip!) I pop over to Amazon and download some books from the Prime Reading Library as well as looking through the free Kindle books to see if any catch my eye. Of course it's already stuffed full of both favourites and classic books that I want to read, so I'll never be short of reading material. 

When packing I'm also busy thinking about books for the children as well. One of my fondest childhood holiday memories is the book box that my Mum used to put together to bring along in the car with us. She would collect second hand books at the library book sale and charity shops which were only brought out when we had arrived. I still remember the excitement of all those new books! 

Books piled up on suitcase ready to take on holiday

Above are the books that I packed for our most recent trip. The current read (Atonement), a non-fiction book to dip in and out of (Quiet), a book I haven't read before (The Flight of the Falcon), a nice big book so that I don't run out of things to read (Gone With The Wind) and my Kindle on top!

Choosing which books to pack for a holiday certainly makes the chore of packing much more fun, and of course sitting down and getting on with all that reading is something to look forward to as well!

Friday 27 August 2021

Adventures in Harry Potter baking

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Mum knows that I like to keep busy with the children over the school holidays, as well as enjoying a challenge, and so this summer she treated us to a copy of The Official Harry Potter Baking Book. This book contains 40+ recipes inspired by the Harry Potter books and films, alongside lots of photos and trivia.

It's a lovely book to browse through, with plenty of pictures of the gorgeous (and slightly intimidating) bakes which are all beautifully styled. I sat the children down with a pack of post it notes so that they could pick out the ones that they wanted to try, then I went through afterwards and weeded out the ones that I thought we could manage to make a start with. Some of them are very complicated!

The Official Harry Potter Baking Book

I decided that we would start with the Wizard's Chess Squares, which are plain and chocolate flapjack squares arranged to look like a chessboard. I've made flapjacks lots of times before and already had most of the ingredients so I was feeling confident.

Harry Potter baking wizard chess flapjacks

We were very pleased with our finished display! I'd not made chocolate flapjacks before and this recipe was absolutely delicious. If you know your chess, you may notice that there should be an extra row to the chessboard. Unfortunately the finished bake went a bit crumbly so we didn't have quite enough squares to make a full still tasted good when eaten with a spoon though!

Harry Potter baking wizard chess flapjacks

Next we tried another simple recipe - Wand Breadsticks. These were very easy to make and didn't need many ingredients. The children had fun making different shapes and styles, and they tasted good too.

Harry Potter wand breadsticks

Our most recent bake was these doughnuts. The Harry Potter connection? Imagine them piled up with sweets and chocolate frogs to produce a Honeydukes Haul Cake. I'd never made doughnuts before and I was very pleased with the result - they were delicious! And not nearly as difficult as I had imagined they would be. This is definitely a recipe that I'll be returning to!

Harry Potter doughnuts

We still have plenty of things left to keep us busy baking. I'm even wondering whether to change things up this Christmas and attempt a Hogwarts Gingerbread Castle using the templates provided in the book! 

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Some 5* books that I've enjoyed recently

 This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Over the last year the number of books that I've read has increased massively, and the main reason for this has been my local library. It's only small so I wasn't in the habit of visiting regularly, but since they introduced free reservations last spring I've been going there at least once a week to both pick up the books that I've reserved and to browse the shelves for more books. I will really miss those free reservations once they've come to an end!

So I thought I'd pass along just a few of the top books that I've enjoyed recently, in case anyone is looking for reading inspiration.

The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger by Suzanne Fortin This was a very moving dual timeline book about an old man suffering from dementia, with only vague and fleeting memories of his life in the Second World War and the young woman that he fell in love with. I'm not always a fan of dual timeline historical fiction but this one worked really well and the details of the full story were revealed at a good pace. Perhaps not the most cheerful of topics but it was beautifully written. 

Mr Wilder and Me by Jonathan Coe Before reading this book I was only vaguely aware of the famous  Hollywood director Billy Wilder, having watched a couple of his films during my Media Studies A-Level many years ago. The story follows a young woman who also knows almost nothing about him but finds herself working on the set of his film Fedora. It's a coming of age story ,and although the story is fictional it's rooted in fact. It was a fascinating behind the scenes look at Hollywood in the seventies.

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery This was recommended by my sister and I enjoyed it very much. It's the story of Valancy Stirling, unmarried at the grand old age of 28 and living with her overbearing mother and aunt. She dreams about living in a Blue Castle where all her dreams of romance can come true. When she is diagnosed with a heart condition and given only a year to live she decides to rebel and finds herself living for real the life that she's always dreamed about. But what will happen when the year is up?

Should We Stay or Should We Go by Lionel Schriver This is a very cleverly written book. It's about a couple in their fifties that decide, rather than becoming a burden on their family and society as they age, they will commit suicide together at the age of 80. The book then takes a look at a variety of different scenarios that could play out - some realistic and some not so much! It was a funny read, and also leaves you thinking about the decisions that we make and how they affect our lives.

The Skylarks' War by Hilary McKay I picked this one up in the children's section when I was looking for books for Mia. It's a book about a group of children and how their lives are affected by the outbreak of the First World War. It reminded me of children's classic books like The Railway Children and Carrie's War, as well as the memoir Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain. It was a beautiful read and left me in tears. It was one of those children's books that are wasted on children, it should definitely be marketed at adults as well!

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid This book tells the story of a young black woman, who at the start of the story is apprehended in a supermarket for 'kidnapping' the white child that she's babysitting. The book explores her story and that of her employer. It's a gripping read and a very relevant and timely tale about all sorts of issues, including but not limited to, racism and privilege. 

The Evening Chorus by Helen Humphreys This book follows several stories set during the Second World War - a man in a German prison camp, his young wife back at home and his sister. I loved the descriptions about the natural world and I was pleased to discover at the end that some elements of the story were based in truth. Despite the seriousness of the setting it was a really lovely read about enjoying the simple pleasures of the day.

I've also been on a bit of a book buying spree. I'm reluctant to buy new books as I read them so quickly that it seems like a waste of money. Instead I buy books that I've previously read and enjoyed. The Breaking Point by Daphne du Maurier is a collection of short stories from one of my favourite authors that I remember reading when I was younger (in a previous edition published as The Blue Lenses and Other Stories.) There are eight stories in the book and the one that had really stuck in my mind and that I wanted to reread is called The Pool. It's a story about a young girl on the brink of adulthood, and for some reason it really resonates with me. It had been years since I last read it and I finished the story in tears! I'm glad that I now have my own copy to read whenever I want.

If you've read any great books recently I'd love to hear about them, leave me a comment below!

Tuesday 24 August 2021

Five tips to choose the perfect greeting card

A greeting card can be a great way to let someone know you are thinking of them during a difficult time or during a time of celebration. But with so many designs to choose from, choosing the right one can sometimes feel like an impossible task. There are a number of key factors you must consider beforehand. Keep reading to find out how to choose the perfect greeting card for any occasion.

Consider the recipient

When it comes to choosing the perfect greeting card, you must first consider who you intend to send it to. This can determine which type of greeting card you are on the lookout for. For example, if you are shopping for a birthday card for your mum or sister, it may benefit you to browse greeting cards that include a personalised message or heartfelt sentiment. If you are looking to send a greeting card to an acquaintance or colleague on the other hand, you should play it safe and opt for a simple yet friendly design. You must also consider their age, gender, personality, and relationship to you. The Christmas card you send to a friend is unlikely to be the same Christmas card you send to your grandmother. By considering the recipient ahead of time, you can ensure you are purchasing a greeting card that is not only suitable but appropriate for the person it is addressed to.

Pile of Christmas holiday greeting cards
Photo credit Annie Spratt

Determine the occasion

Which greeting card you choose will differ depending on the occasion you are marking it with. For example, if you are celebrating your best friend’s birthday, you can lead with an earnest or comedic tone. If you are sending commiserations for the ill health of a loved one, on the other hand, you should browse the wide range of get well soon cards available both in-store and online. If you are struggling to find the perfect card for the occasion, it may benefit you to take a look at Greenvelope’s selection. You can also purchase a greeting card for more occasions than ever before including a baby shower, Halloween party, or simply to pass on words of encouragement for a friend going through a particularly rough patch in their life.

Decide on a type of greeting card

When it comes to choosing a greeting card, it can be difficult to settle on a particular type. Before you make a final decision, you must weigh up the pros and cons of each and consider whether or not the recipient is likely to appreciate the sentiment or find it distasteful. Electronic greeting cards are experiencing a rapid surge in popularity, but they lack the personal touch of a physical greeting card. They are, however, the number one choice for a growing number of consumers looking to send a message to a friend or family member overseas. They can also be personalised in more ways than a physical card and altered before sending as necessary. If you want to send someone something to remember, consider designing and sending a homemade greeting card. This can prove how much they mean to you and allow you to get creative.

Pile of greetings cards in envelopes
Photo credit Ranurte

Consider the recipient’s hobbies and interests

If you are sending a greeting card to a new friend or acquaintance, it can be impossible to know what they like and dislike. This can make the process of shopping for a greeting card particularly difficult. If you are in doubt, opt for a simple design with no added flair or personality. If you are sending a greeting card to a friend or loved one, however, it can be a great opportunity to prove how much they mean to you and that you are interested in what they have to say. Popular greeting card designs include flowers, animals, cars, movie characters, and music. If your brother is a car fanatic, consider a greeting card with his favourite model splashed across the front. If your friend loves puppies, there are plenty of canine-themed greeting cards available guaranteed to bring them joy.

Craft a well-worded message

As well as choosing the perfect design, you must also choose a greeting card with a great message. You must decide whether you wish to purchase a greeting card with a set message or with space to write your own. If you intend to send the greeting card to someone close to you, a few heartfelt sentences can be a great way to make it personal.

When it comes to choosing the perfect greeting card, it can become overwhelming. With so many factors to consider beforehand, you must plan ahead. This includes considering the recipient, determining the occasion, deciding on a type of greeting card, considering the recipient’s hobbies and interests, and crafting a well-worded message.

This is a collaborative post

Monday 23 August 2021

I've been on a book buying spree

This summer I've been managing to fit in a reasonable amount of work. I do some at home work for a company which is basically all about teaching computers to be more like people, and although the work available can be sporadic I've been lucky enough to be involved with a few projects recently that I can work on around the children. 

So I was feeling a bit flush this month and decided to treat myself to some book purchases!

I started by buying a couple of brand new books. I love Gone With The Wind, but my old second hand copy literally fell apart, in fact I used some of the pages towards a craft using recycled book pages. I love my shiny new copy and I'm looking forward to re-reading it. 

I also treated myself to The Breaking Point by Daphne du Maurier. We had a copy when I was growing up (under the title The Blue Lenses and Other Stories) and there was one story in particular, The Pool, which I remembered well. I really enjoyed reading these familiar stories over again.

Gone With The Wind and The Breaking Point paperback books

I also bought two more nostalgic books. When I was growing up I loved the Blue Door Theatre books but we only had three from the series - The Swish of the Curtain, Golden Pavements and Blue Door Venture. These books made references to adventures that I knew were contained in the two books below, Maddy Alone and Maddy Again, but they were long out of print and I never managed to get hold of them. 

Well I picked up my copy of The Swish of the Curtain to read to Mia, the only one in the series that I still owned, and after a Google I discovered that they have been republished in gorgeous paperback editions! So I bought the two that I hadn't read and enjoyed them very much (and I suspect that I may end up buying the rest of the series as well so that I have a row of matching copies).

Maddy Again and Maddy Alone by Pamela Brown paperback books

Then I took Mia to the opticians for new glasses and we popped into The Works opposite. While she was eyeing up the fidget toys I spotted this little book called Quiet in the sale section for just £1. I'm a sucker for a self help book and I couldn't resist! It's actually pretty good, it's  all about how the world today is such a noisy place and some of the ways that we can carve out a little bit of piece and quiet for ourselves. 

Quiet book from The Works

Finally I took Mia out for an afternoon of shopping in our local village, which has five charity shops. I've not been in a charity shop for such a long time as we've barely been into the shops lately, and we had a wonderful time! Between all the shops I picked up five books for myself at a total cost of just £6 (along with three of Jacqueline Wilson's for Mia). I was particularly pleased with The Binding because I was looking out for it having borrowed it from the library last year. 

Five paperback books from the charity shop

I only tend to buy books that I've read and enjoyed, and know that I'll want to re-read. I get through books very quickly and I don't have the money to buy every book that I want to read. The only new book to me here is The Flight of the Falcon by Daphne du Maurier, but as I really like her books I'm hoping that it's a safe bet!

I'm saving A Christmas Carol for Christmas and I've just started Atonement, which is every bit as good as I remember. 

Luckily we recently decided that we can make the space for a new bookcase in the living room, so I'll have somewhere to put all these lovely new books!

Friday 20 August 2021

A visit to Tintagel Castle, Cornwall (an English Heritage site)

Tintagel Castle family day out review

When we were planning our holiday to Westward Ho! in July this year we were keen to visit a few local attractions, and one of these was Tintagel Castle. Tintagel Castle is an English Heritage site and it's not cheap to visit - a family ticket costs over £40 - so we decided to pay a bit more for a full year of English Heritage family membership. Luckily we already have a few other places in mind to visit!

All visits to Tintagel Castle currently need to be booked in advance, even if you are already English Heritage members, and it's very popular. We booked a week or two in advance for our visit in early July outside of the main school holidays, and when we arrived the only walk in tickets left on the day were for very late in the afternoon. Looking at the website in August there were no tickets available for the next few days.

Tintagel Castle ruins from the cliff opposite

There is no dedicated parking at Tintagel Castle itself, instead you need to park in a car park in the town and walk in. There are plenty of large public car parks and we had no problem parking when we arrived first thing, although when we left early afternoon there didn't seem to be many spaces. I imagine that on a busy day it could be difficult to find parking close by, although I spotted emptier car parks further out. I think we paid about £3 to park for the day which seemed very reasonable. The English Heritage entrance appears to be located in the town but it's about 10-15 minutes walk to the castle entrance itself, down quite a steep slope. 

The Tintagel Castle ruins are accessed by a footbridge across to the island. The views from this bridge and the island itself are absolutely incredible. We were lucky to visit on a beautiful summer's day,  to enjoy the lovely clear blue sea and spectacular views along the coastline. You can look down from the bridge to the beach below.

Once inside the Tintagel Castle ruins site, due to covid regulations you are signposted around a circular self-guided route. There is lots of walking up and down narrow stony paths with exposed cliff edges - it's not at all suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs and I'd be very nervous if visiting with young mobile children as I'd be hanging on to them constantly! 

Views from Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

When you have crossed the bridge you are among the ruins of the 13th-century castle. There are outdoor displays to guide you through the history of the castle and also information about the legends that have sprung up around the castle over time, for example the stories of King Arthur. There isn't a great deal remaining but it is interesting nonetheless.

Walking along the top of the cliffs around the edge of the island you come to remains of early medieval buildings. It must have been a very isolated and windswept spot to live. There's an impressive statue, the brooding figure of Gallos that is inspired by the King Arthur legends. There's also a tunnel to explore which the children loved.

Statue at Tintagel Castle, Cornwall, family day out

From the island you can look back in all directions to the cliffs on the other side to the beautiful scenery around the headland.

Family day out at Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

The tour then concludes with a steep climb down steps to the beach. It probably took us about an hour in total to tour the island part of the site.

Merlin's Cave is located on the beach along with another large cave that can be explored. If you are keen to visit the beach and caves then it's worth timing your visit around the tide times, as when the tide is in parts of the beach are inaccessible. The tide was coming in when we visited and we had to scramble across rocks to get to some places, you'd also need to be careful not to get cut off by the tide. 

From the bottom of the hill the public path to the beach is down more narrow stairs and across rocks and was very crowded when we visited as it was such a lovely day. It would be awkward if you had lots of beach equipment to carry. It's a public beach (see the bottom of this post for more details) but there is no lifeguard service. It's a really lovely beach, very shallow and calm for swimming.

Merlin's Cave is a large cave which is fun to climb around in. We could see light at the far end but couldn't get across as it was cut off by some deep water and we weren't dressed for the beach!

Inside Merlin's Cave, Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

It's worth noting that there are no facilities on the island itself, and the toilets are down by the entrance near the café and beach. Also it's a very open and exposed site, lovely on the day that we visited but perhaps not so pleasant if it's raining or windy.

Finally, something that we didn't realise before our visit, and which isn't obvious to tourists thanks to the English Heritage signed entrance and the staff located near to the town car parks, is that only the island itself is ticketed. 

The beach below, including Merlin's Cave and the other caves, is a free public beach, and there are some lovely cliff walks along public footpaths on the other side of the cliff. If you park in Tintagel town and walk over you can get some great free views of the castle ruins from the other side, as well as enjoying the beach below. I'm glad that we did the full visit to the ruins once, but it's definitely a tip worth knowing, especially if you are visiting at a busy time and you can't get tickets, or you baulk at the high cost.

Family review day out at Tintagel Castle

For more details about a visit to Tintagel Castle, along with the link to book tickets, visit the English Heritage Tintagel Castle website.

Wednesday 18 August 2021

Book review - How It All Works by Adam Dant and Brian Clegg

I received a copy of this book to review. Amazon links are affiliate. 

This week Harry and I have been reviewing a fascinating book by Adam Dant and Brian Clegg - How It All Works - All Scientific Laws and Phenomena Illustrated and Demonstrated.

This large hardback book shows us as readers how science in action affects our daily lives. The book reveals how the most interesting and complex scientific laws and phenomena crop up in everything that we see around us.

How It All Works book cover

Each chapter begins with an illustration, beginning in the kitchen before zooming out to twelve other locations. We start close by with the House and the Garden, then continue on to places found on the same street like the Hospital. We then travel much further afield, including among other places the Coastline, the Earth and the Solar System, before concluding with the Entire Universe. 

Adam Dent's large illustrations are incredibly detailed. Each location covered is one that you can relate to, and has many things to spark your interest. Hidden within each illustration are 46 different laws and phenomena, and when you spot an interesting detail you are eager to find out more.  

How It All Works book illustration inside

Turning the page you can find a selection of close ups taken from the original illustration accompanied by a description by science writer Brian Clegg of the law or phenomena which is being shown. The descriptions are simple and quite brief, but make a great jumping off point for further research on the topic. 

How It All Works book review with inside picture

As Brian Clegg says, "What these illustrations and their short descriptions will show is the way that in everything we do, in everything we experience, we are witnessing and taking part in scientific phenomena, guided and linked by scientific laws. Science is not just something we do at school or that professionals undertake in laboratories, it is at the heart of how everything works." 

Harry is 12 and is used to reading non-fiction books aimed at adults, and as I expected he loved this book. He enjoys books that he can browse through as and when, and this one fits the bill perfectly. You can either start at the beginning and work your way through it, or you can flick through until something catches your eye that you want to know more about. 

Although the principles covered are undoubtedly complicated, the descriptions are simple and easy to understand. If there's something that particularly catches your eye then you can easily do some further research to find out more about the topic.

I'd definitely recommend this book for adults and teenagers alike, and even younger children would enjoy looking through the illustrations and hunting for the details that are hidden in the larger picture.

How it All Works: All scientific laws and phenomena illustrated & demonstrated (Amazon affiliate link) will be published on 28th September 2021.

Wednesday 4 August 2021

Getting the summer back on track

I mentioned in my last post that I'd been letting the poor weather this summer get to me a bit. 

It all started off so well, and at the beginning of the year I was making great plans for the garden. I ordered my seeds and had them all planted out on the windowsill. But it took ages for the weather to warm up enough to plant them outside, and they went spindly trying to reach the sunshine through the window. Then the weekend that I did plant them out we had such awful cold winds that the poor surviving plants had most of their leaves blown off. 

Plants suffering in bad weather

We did of course have a lovely heatwave in July which coincided with our week away, and that was amazing. It really felt like a proper summer holiday and we were so lucky. But then I came back and found that most of my plants in the garden had died due to the lack of water.  

I found it all a bit depressing and so I've hardly been out in the garden this week. I ventured out today and it's such a mess. The grass and the front hedge desperately need a cut, but our garden waste collections have stopped due to a shortage of drivers, and I don't want to create piles of garden rubbish everywhere. 

I'm stuck in my head thinking that it just hasn't felt like a proper summer this year. We've hardly had any outdoor pizza or barbecues, we've barely used the firepit and we've not even been out in the hot tub because it always seems to be raining in the evening. Even when it's not raining it's just not pleasant sitting outside when the sky is grey. 

But I need to keep reminding myself that it's only just the beginning of August. There is plenty of summer left, over a month of school holiday to go, and there's every chance that we will have some warm and sunny weather over the next few weeks. I need to work on appreciating what we do have, instead of mourning what we don't!

I've made it one of my goals for this month to get out in the garden every day and try and bring things back under control. I was heartened to see my first sunflower in full bloom today, and I have a few others that have managed to survive and will be flowering soon. A couple of my tomato plants are thriving, and my sweet peas are looking lovely. 

So it's time to think positive. I'm making the most of exercising outdoors as it's the perfect temperature - not too hot and not too cold. Last week I went to the gym and swam in the outdoor pool, perhaps it wasn't that warm but it was really refreshing. We've been having fun doing indoor activities like baking and playing with the forgotten Nintendo Labo sets. It's also nice not to have to trek around watering all the plants every evening, I just wait for the daily rain shower. 

Fingers crossed for just a few more warm days to come before the schools go back!

Monday 2 August 2021

Goals update and August goals

A new month is underway, and once again it's time to set myself some goals!

You can see the goals that I set myself for July here and I'm pleased to report that I did very well with them. I achieved some tasks that had been sitting around for far too long.

August is a different month to the rest of the year, because it's taken up entirely with the school summer holidays. So my goals need to be ones that work around the family, and also focus on spending time with the family and not having as much time to myself. 

So here's what I want to achieve this month:

* Spend time in the garden every day and get it sorted. The weather has been pretty rubbish this summer hasn't it? Apart from that lovely heatwave when we were away which killed most of the plants in my garden as I wasn't there to water it.

With that, along with the current disruptions to our green waste collection service, our garden is looking a bit of a mess. I want to get out in the garden every day this month (assuming of course that it's not torrential rain all day) and spend some time sorting and some time just sitting and enjoying it. There must be some good weather still to come this summer, surely?!

* Work on my cross stitch map. This is a very long term project, and I'm ready to make some really good progress with it. As you can see from the picture below I'm doing well at filling in the background but there's plenty still to work on. It's a lofty goal, but this month it would be fantastic if I could finish working around the edges of all the countries with the blue background, leaving neat square spaces for more of my pictures. At the very least I'll aim to finish the edges of North and South America (around the Philippines, Malaysia and so on it will get quite fiddly!) I'm blocking out areas with different shades of blue, then when that is all done I'll balance out the colours by adding detail using contrasting shades.

Cross stitch world map in progress

* Write more in my journal. I started writing in my journal in March and I've found it really helpful as a way to clear my head. But lately I've got out of the habit and I want to pick it up again. Perhaps not everyday, but certainly a few times a week. Perhaps I can do this while I'm sitting in the garden with a cup of tea!

* No phone at the dinner table. I'm embarrassed to write this down as it's a terrible habit and I know that. But I don't enjoy making dinner and it's often quite a rushed affair. By the time I've got everyone's dinner on the table I just want to sit down and zone out, as do my family members. But it's not good and it needs to stop and I need to set a good example.

* No phone after dinner either. After dinner and in the evenings I'll still use my phone, but only for messages and calls, or actual tasks like taking photos, banking, checking library books and so on. No mindless scrolling.

Finally I want to make sure that we all enjoy this summer. I've been letting the poor weather get to me a bit and I need to reset things. I've found it difficult because I've been trying to do a few hours work every day, but if I get myself organised and get up at a reasonable time then I can easily get my work and other tasks done by lunchtime, which leaves the afternoon free for family time.