Monday, 18 October 2021

My latest obsession - charity shop book buying

I'm an avid reader, but for a long time I've been practising minimalism when it comes to my books. A few years ago I got rid of many of my physical books and started to buy books for my Kindle instead. When I did buy an actual book I would pass it on when I'd finished with it, and over the last year or two I've been a frequent visitor to the local library. 

But a few months ago something changed. Perhaps because during lockdown I got used to reading physical books from the library, and although most of them were enough to keep me entertained over one reading, some of them were ones that I knew I would want to read again. I've also been chatting to a friend who told me how much she enjoys roaming around the local charity shops and coming home with bags of books.

During the summer holiday I took Mia for a shopping trip to our nearest large village. Along with a quick stop in the café and a visit to the toy shop we discovered five charity shops. I was delighted to find a great selection of books to come home with - a few that I had already read and wanted to read again, some new to me but by a familiar author, and some that I had heard of and wanted to read.

From that moment on I was hooked. I've found that around here the going rate in a smaller charity shop is £1 for a paperback, rising to £1.99 in larger shops like Oxfam. I've found several areas nearby where I can visit five or six shops within a few minutes walk, and if I have a child with me I always come back with more because they help to persuade me that I really need a particular book.

Many of the books that I'm buying are ones that I've already read and enjoyed. I also have a wish list in my head - I couldn't write it out from memory but if I see a particular book on the shelf I will know that it's one I'm after. It's all going a long way to filling up my new bookcases!

A photo of the books on my fiction bookshelf

I'd love to hear about your charity shop book bargains and any tips that you might have for second hand book buying!

Thursday, 14 October 2021

The rise of the fidget toy in our house

Do you remember when your young children were toddlers, and you couldn't leave the house without a bag full of brightly coloured plastic teething toys to keep them entertained? Well I've recently discovered that even when they grow up and turn into tweens they still want to carry about a heap of plastic bendy and stretchy toys, even though these have now been rebranded under the more grown up term 'fidget toys'.

Pile of fidget toys for children

I first became aware of the fidget toy 'Popits' when I spotted references on social media and blogs back in the spring. I could see the appeal and I thought that my children would enjoy them, so we chose them each a small square Popit which they were delighted with. This was enough for the oldest, he enjoys to pop it from time to time and that's enough for him.

But for the ten year old? Well it marked the start of an obsession. She soon discovered that Popits were available in a range of different colours, sizes and shapes. Not only that, when searching for them on  Amazon it opened up a whole new world of different fidget toys - squishy ones, stretchy ones, wire ones, hard ones, soft ones...there is endless choice. She even plays a game on Roblox where she collects, swaps and pops virtual Popits with her friends.

As well as the multitude found online they can also be spotted for cheap on local market stalls and are readily available in all toy shops. I must confess that after seeing how satisfying it was to pop them I bought myself a small one to keep my hands busy while I'm thinking. We've given them to younger relatives that have loved them, and have been kept occupied with them for much longer than many other toys.

I'm a sucker for giving in to my children when it comes to keeping up with the latest crazes that hit the playground. At least these days they are able to spend some of their own money, and I like to think that it teaches them a little bit about budgeting and shopping around to get the best deals. Normally these crazes are short lived, but I can't see this latest obsession coming to an end any time soon!

Monday, 11 October 2021

Book review - The Sailing Days of Bianca Drake by Louise McGee

 I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review. Contains Amazon affiliate link.

We love cruising as a family, and as well as all the things to enjoy on board I also enjoy speculating about what life must be like for all the people that are busy working away in the background. So I loved the sound of this new book - The Sailing Days Of Bianca Drake (affiliate link) - a semi-autobiographical novel based on the real adventures of the author who spent six years at sea as a crew member on a luxury cruise ship. 

Here's the blurb:

Twenty-three year old Bianca Drake is about to embark on the biggest adventure of her young life, leaving home for the very first time and joining the crew of the 'Lady Anne' as she sets off for a six month cruise around the world. Bianca's whistle-stop tour of the seven seas does not go entirely smoothly as she tries to balance the unreasonable demands of her new boss Cynthia with a bit of adventure of her own.'

I really enjoyed this book. It was a light, fun read and a fascinating account of life behind the scenes on a cruise ship. The main character Bianca doesn't seem to have much idea of what working on a cruise ship will entail in terms of accommodation or life on board, but she copes admirably with everything that is thrown at her, even if it does take her a little while to find her feet.

I loved reading about all the places around the world that Bianca visits, although her experiences in port are a little different to those of a tourist like me! And it was really interesting to learn about the mistakes that crew members can make that can get them into a lot of trouble - they have to abide by some very strict rules and there are severe consequences if they make a mistake.

This book confirmed my suspicions that despite the long hours there is also a very enjoyable side to working on a cruise ship, and I'd recommend this book whether you are a cruiser or not. It's a light-hearted and funny read with a glimpse of into life that many people have wondered about. 

The Sailing Days of Bianca Drake book review

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