Thursday, 23 June 2022

Working through my fabric stash

Recently I wrote about my fabric stash, and I've also shared some of the projects that I have been working on. I thought I'd do a little round up of some of the things that I've made so far!

My fabric stash

The garden bunting was my first project. It hangs at the entrance to my vegetable patch and I love seeing it when I go in to do the watering. I know that it won't last forever but I'm hoping it will make it through a few seasons.
 
Beach hut bunting for the garden

These were my first large zipped pouches and I'm very pleased with them. They make great project bags, and use up scraps of fabric which I really like to look at. The flowery one is for Mia, she uses it to take her iPad and notebooks round with her if we are going visiting. I am using the other one for my current long term cross stitch project.

Patchwork fabric large zipped pouches

I've already shared these next projects - the first is a small fabric storage bin. I'd like to make more of these although I will need to buy some more interfacing. Interfacing isn't too expensive, but I want to work with what I have already first! These are a pretty way to store things, and I might also use some of my less loved fabric to make storage bins for inside drawers.

Small fabric storage bin

Secondly, these laundry bags were a great way to use some of my larger pieces of fabric. They look a bit mismatched but they are very practical, I've been using the smaller one to store the dirty clothes for my weekly white wash instead of having a heap inside the wardrobe. They are very sturdy and will be great for travelling as they can be washed when we get home.

Large fabric laundry bags for travel

Then I made a third patchwork zipped pouch which you can see in the picture below. I'm using to store my current craft project. It's made using smaller strips of fabric, I sewed a selection of long strips together to make each side, then cut each piece in half and swapped them over (I think it's called strip piecing if that description doesn't make sense!). It makes it look more complicated than it really is!

Two large zipped fabric pouches

I really love my beach hut fabric and I wanted to use it for something for the home, so I decided to attempt a fabric bowl. I used this tutorial Charmed Fabric Bowl and it's very simple, basically you just cut out a circle of outer fabric, interfacing and lining fabric, sew them together then gather the edges to pull it up into a bowl shape. You finish the bowl by sewing around a long strip of fabric to hide the gathers at the top. I didn't manage to get the neatest finish on this bowl, but it looks fine from most angles!

Simple fabric bowl attempt

While making the bowl I really liked how the fabric looked when it was sewn together in a circle before it was gathered up. So I decided to make a small circular mat for my round table. There's no interfacing in this one, it's just two circles of fabric sewn together. But then I decided to try stitching some random loops across the top to practice using the sewing machine for curves. I was really pleased with how well it worked!

Small round fabric placemat with beach hut fabric

I'm rather impressed with how well I've managed with these projects. I've learned some new techniques - how to use a zipper foot, sewing curves, simple patchworking. I've also become a lot more confident with using my sewing machine, for example how to thread the machine and how to wind bobbins.

I still have an unopened Christmas print fat quarter bundle which I bought with a voucher last year. I have a few ideas but I'm a bit nervous because I really like the fabric! I'm wondering about a patchwork table runner or place mats, or perhaps some way of incorporating a display for the gorgeous Christmas cross stitch kits that I need to get on and finish. 

I also now have a bag of fabric scraps which need using up, so I can see some more patchwork projects in my future!

Monday, 20 June 2022

Some of my favourite Instagram accounts for beachcombers

I've been trying to stay away from social media a little bit lately, but I love a quick Instagram binge every few days. I've had a good sort through the accounts that I follow and I'm very happy with my current Instagram feed. I follow lots of crafters, and people that post pretty things like fabric creations, nice views and lovely cakes. 

Recently on my own Instagram account I've been posting lots of pictures of the things that I've found while beachcombing, and when choosing some hashtags I came across some accounts which were posting pictures that I loved, so I thought I'd share a few accounts I've been following recently in case you are also a beach and sea enthusiast!

I discovered smartie_lids_on_the_beach when I was sharing some beach plastic that I had found, and it inspired me to make my own beach plastic collage. Michelle is an artist from Cornwall and she makes beautiful art using the discarded beach worn plastic that she finds on local beaches. I love looking at the pictures of her colourful collages.


tidelinetrashandtreasures is another account sharing colourful beach plastic art, and this one is particularly relevant to me because Carmen is local and visits the same area of beach that I do. I also just saw that they sell their gorgeous work at the farmer's market that I visit from time to time, so I will look out for them the next time I am there!


lorileethomasart also shares beach art, but also using natural objects and lots and lots of sea glass. I always hunt for sea glass and I have a modest collection but nothing like this! I would also love to find some sea pottery one day.


Finally I wanted to share lightkeepersdaughter709. This account also shares some gorgeous sea glass and sea pottery.


I love seeing wonderful beachcombing pictures popping up in my Instagram feed. It makes me want to get back down the beach and start hunting!

Thursday, 16 June 2022

A summer morning walk along the beach

This morning I had to make an annoyingly unscheduled trip into town to return a speedily broken piece of plastic tat to Claire's Accessories. I dropped the children to school at 8.15am, and with the shop not opening until 9am I decided to spend my wait having a wander along the beach. Worthing is handily arranged with one of the main shopping streets parallel to the seafront, so it's easy to pop over to the sea. Even though it was early it was already really warm.

Worthing West Sussex pier at low tide

The tide was a long way out but coming in. At low tide in Worthing the sea is so far away that you can't even walk to it, due to the slippery green rocks and large pools of water. In fact you can barely even see it in the distance. The incoming tide creeps in quietly but quickly. You can head out across the rocks to a nice sandy patch, and turn round a few minutes later to find your route back underwater. It's not too dangerous as it's so shallow, but you might end up with wet feet!

Worthing West Sussex beach at low tide

The town centre was so noisy this morning with building works and cars, but as soon as you get down on the beach it all fades away into the background.

I can spend ages wandering along the beach. I love looking down for interesting shells and pebbles and any other things I might find. I'm always really excited to find rare sea glass, and I try to collect any rubbish that I find, although luckily I don't usually spot any. The only thing I picked up this morning was a large metal fishing fly, the metal part is about 7cm long. I found it a bit icky to pick up as I don't like fishing and I don't want to think about the fish it might have hurt, hopefully I've prevented it from causing harm to other marine life.

Old fishing fly found on the beach

While I'm walking along I get completely lost in my thoughts. I think sometimes I even enter the flow state that I'm always reading about in my wellbeing book collection. Time just flies by, and I have to make sure that I look up every now and then, as I'm so busy staring down and not noticing how far I've travelled!

So the time passed very quickly and I was able to return my item without any trouble. I even had time for a quick visit to the charity shop next door for some bargain paperbacks!

Thursday, 9 June 2022

I've been crafting away

I didn't realise that when I recently pulled out my fabric stash it would lead to a sudden influx of ideas for craft projects that I wanted to make! Over the last couple of weeks I've been crafting away like mad, and I wanted to share some of the things that I've been working on.

I've already shared my beach hut bunting for the garden and my zipped pouches. I have some zippers left and I'm planning to make some more pouches which I can use as project bags for my crafts in progress.

Beach hut bunting for the garden

Once I had the sewing machine out I was inspired to try some new things. I started with a small fabric storage bin using this tutorial - DIY Storage Bin. I was really pleased with how well it turned out, especially because it taught me how to box the corners of a bag, a technique which I'm intending to use when I make some smaller zipped pouches.

Small fabric storage bin craft

Then I was looking for a project to use up some of the larger pieces of fabric in my stash, and I decided to make some fabric laundry bags. I usually take old plastic bags to store dirty washing while we are on holiday but I thought that fabric ones would look tidier in a hotel room, be more durable, and are also washable. I used some strong ribbon from my stash for the drawstring. 

The dark pink fabric is some vintage Laura Ashley fabric which I was given a few years ago when my mother-in-law was having a clear out. The bags are a little mis-matched and they are very rough and ready, but I'm glad to be able to put the fabric to a good use! I may also make some smaller sized drawstring bags to hold shoes or smaller items in the suitcase.

Drawstring fabric laundry bags

Then I moved on to my felt drawer. I started by using up some of the scraps to make some simple felt heart bunting, then I started thinking ahead to some Christmas crafting. These crafts will be shared in full on my blog later in the year, but in the meantime here's a sneak peek! I used a cross stitch snowflake pattern that I've been working on to make some felt wreath style designs which I will turn into Christmas bunting.

Felt and cross stitch Christmas ornaments

I've also made some sweet little felt Christmas tree ornaments which are decorated with gold ric rac and buttons. The design of the trees was inspired by this craft - DIY Felt Christmas Tree Ornaments - but instead of ornaments I'm planning to use them for bunting. I'm working on some baubles in a contrasting colour which will all be hung together on ribbon.

Felt Christmas tree craft

I'm still bursting with ideas, and I'm starting to feel overwhelmed by how much I want to get done! It's a really nice feeling to have :) Although I must admit that I don't feel as though I'm making much progress working through my various stashes, there is still plenty left to work with!

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Using up scraps of felt to make simple felt heart bunting

Recently I wrote about my fabric stash and my plans for fabric based crafting to work my way through some of it. What I didn't mention is that I also have a huge stash of felt. In 2014 I collaborated with Viking and I received 100 sheets of felt in a variety of colours, and although I gave some away to friends and family I still have loads. I also have felt which I've purchased for various projects over the years, and a large amount was made up of small leftover scraps which I couldn't bear to throw away.

Pieces of leftover felt scraps for crafting

So I decided to use some of these gorgeous colourful pieces of felt to make some simple felt heart bunting. I found several different tutorials online, but my favourite was this Easy DIY Felt Heart Garland. That garland uses a Cricut to cut out the felt hearts which would make the project much easier! I cut out my hearts by hand using a paper template.

Selection of colourful hearts cut from leftover felt

The hearts are sewn together using a sewing machine. It's best to work from the dip at the top of the heart rather than the pointy end, and my hearts are placed very close together. Before starting this project it's a good idea to make sure that your sewing machine is well loaded up with thread - it looks much neater if you don't run out of thread halfway through. It's a bit fiddly at first but I soon got into the swing of it, and it didn't take long at all to sew the bunting together. I used mainly larger hearts with a few smaller ones mixed in.

Using a sewing machine to make simple felt heart bunting

I love that I had so much felt in such a beautiful selection of colours, I think it looks gorgeous!

Simple felt heart bunting tutorial

I've hung the bunting across my mantlepiece for a beautiful summer decoration. I made enough to loop it across twice, and it mixes in well with the fairy lights that I string there year round.

Simple felt heart bunting DIY craft

This project didn't make much of a dent in my overall felt stash, but it did feel good to use up some of the smaller pieces, and it inspired me to come up with some other felt crafts.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Learning to make simple fabric zipped pouches

Recently I wrote about my fabric stash and how I was hoping to find some simple sewing projects to help work my way through it. I did some searching online for beginner sewing projects, and as I also found some passed down zips in my stash I decided to start with simple fabric pouches.

I was a bit nervous as I had assumed that zips would be complicated to work with, but actually it wasn't too bad. I didn't find it too difficult, even though I had to work out how to change to a zipper foot on the sewing machine!

I found this brilliant tutorial to follow which is really thorough and explains the whole process really well.


My first attempt wasn't the best, although it still does the job! This small pouch uses a 7" zip. I managed to sew the zip in wrong at the top so it doesn't lie flat on one side, and I also intended the two fabrics to be the other way around with the pattern at the bottom. I'm not quite sure how it ended up backwards! You can see the spotted lining fabric showing through, and it's a bit wonky. 

Small zipped pouch first attempt

My second attempt was much better. Because I didn't want to buy anything new for the project I was limited by the sizes of my zips which are either large or small. For this pouch I used a 12" zip to make a zipped case which is about A4 size. It's a good size for a sketchbook and paints, or else a book, my phone and a notebook. I sorted out my previous mistake with the zip and I used a lighter fabric for the liner. (This gorgeous fabric was received for a blog collaboration back in 2015, when I used it to make a drawstring backpack.) I'm really pleased with it, I love the patchwork of different fabrics.

Large zipped fabric patchwork pouch

My third project was made for Mia. She went through my fabric stash and picked out the patterns and colours that she liked. I had a pale blue 12" zip which went well with several of the pieces, so I made her a zipped pouch the same size as mine. It's the perfect size for her iPad and a book or two.

Two large zipped fabric patchwork pouches

I'm so pleased with myself for learning a new skill and making some useful finished products. My seams are still a little wonky and I'm not very good at cutting the fabric in straight lines, but I'm definitely improving! I'm also feeling a lot more confident when it comes to using the sewing machine.

My fabric stash doesn't seem to be reducing, but most of the pieces that I do have are quite small so my next projects are either going to be little ones or using more patchwork. I love the idea of using my very small scraps to do some crazy patchwork and I'm building up a list of little projects to try out.

Monday, 30 May 2022

A collage using plastic from the beach

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about the plastic that we collected from the beach in Mauritius. I brought back a bag full of pieces of plastic, most of them measuring less than 1cm across. There were a few different colours, but the majority of them were blue, green and white, so I decided to use some of them to make a collage which is the same colours as the sea by which they were found.

Marine and beach plastic collage in blue and green

For the background I used a small canvas 5" x 7" (currently three for £5 in The Works). I painted it with acrylic paints in a variety of different blues, slightly darker at the bottom and lighter at the top. Then when it was dry I stuck down the plastic pieces.

Beach art plastic collage close up

I wasn't sure of the best way to glue them, so I just painted a thick layer of PVA glue onto the canvas and placed them down, having planned out parts of the arrangement on a spare canvas beforehand. I began by placing the larger pieces then filled in with the smaller ones, using tweezers. I had quite a few long thin pieces which I arranged horizontally. I tried to mix up the different shades and textures and include the most interestingly shaped pieces.

Making art using marine plastic collected from the beach

I was inspired to do this by various plastic artworks that I've seen online, particularly on Instagram. I'm planning to share some of my favourite accounts to follow soon. It's just a shame that this artwork has to exist at all. I've become much more conscious of rubbish on the beach lately. Luckily our local beaches aren't too bad, but I can usually find a few pieces to put in the bin when I'm by the sea. Hopefully this collage will remind me to be more conscious of the plastic that I'm using and throwing away.

Friday, 27 May 2022

Making plans for my fabric stash

Over the years I seem to have accumulated quite a bit of lovely fabric, even though I'm only at a very basic level when it comes to using a sewing machine. Some of it has come from past blog collaborations and some has just caught my eye when I've seen it on special offer. I now have a large plastic drawer filled with fabric, and I really want to use it for some cool projects.

Pile of different fabrics

There are so many tutorials online and on YouTube that there is really no excuse for not crafting with it. I have a sewing machine which I was given by friend's Mum, I have a huge collection of embroidery silks, I have interfacing and stuffing as well as ribbons and buttons galore. I'm thinking that there are lots of things that I could make without even needing to buy anything extra.

I like the idea of using the red, white and blue London themed fabric for a travel bag, as I'm always looking for storage to help with my packing when we go away. I would love to learn how to make some zippered or drawstring pouches, or perhaps a padded case for electricals.

The anchor fabric would be great to make some things for a cruise gift exchange if we are lucky enough to cruise again, as would the London Underground fabric and the beach huts. I bought some Christmas fabric last year which I want to get crafting with for this year, maybe making some Christmas bunting or tableware. 

I recently made fabric bunting for our garden and there is lots of space to hang some more. I also have many smaller pieces of fabric which would be perfect for some patchwork. I'm thinking about simple patchwork coasters or a case for my phone. I also want to make a cover for the monitor in my study, both to keep it dust free and to keep it out of sight when I'm not using it. 

So I have lots of ideas, I just need to start hunting down some simple tutorials and get started!

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

The first residential

Last week Mia went on a four day residential trip with her school. It was a noteworthy event, because it was the first residential trip for either child. At their school the first residential is in Year 6, and Harry's trip was cancelled two years ago due to covid.

The children have been away from us overnight a few times before, even for several nights, but they've always been with grandparents, with each other, and we've been at the other end of the phone. So even though she was very excited, Mia was also quite apprehensive.

Of course it all went well and she had a wonderful time! She did all sorts of activities that we don't do with her, like dry slope skiing and rock climbing, and she also enjoyed the independence of sharing a room with her best friends and taking a bit more responsibility for herself. She did say that she was a bit homesick, but I think that this was outweighed by the positives of the trip.

As for me, I found it really hard while she was away! I missed her of course, and I also missed being in control. Normally I'm in charge of everything that she does - where she goes, what she eats, how she spends her time - and I found it hard to relinquish that. I also felt a bit lost because I was no longer as needed as I usually am. It made me think ahead to when both children are all grown up and have left home - what will I do with myself?! 

It was very quiet while she was away. She's the chatty one who is constantly on the move, and we definitely missed her presence! But I'm so glad that she had this opportunity and I hope that both of them have the chance to do something similar again in the future.

Child with suitcase for first residential trip

Monday, 23 May 2022

The Big Jubilee Read

As part of this year's Jubilee celebrations I was really interested to hear about the Big Jubilee Read. It's a reading for pleasure campaign celebrating seventy great reads. Ten books have been chosen from each of the seven decades, with authors from across a range of Commonwealth countries. As well as recognising great books, the campaign is also intended to highlight lesser-known books and authors that deserve to be recognised.

You can find the full list here, sorted by decade, along with a short summary of each - The Big Jubilee Read booklist.

I've encountered many suggested reading lists over the years, and I always enjoy browsing through them. Firstly to see which books I've read, secondly to remind me of books that I've heard of and want to read, and thirdly to find some new books to add to my reading list. 

Of course I'm always happy to find lots of books that I've read on a 'best books' list - it's always enjoyable to think that you are well read - but this list certainly gives me plenty to look for when it comes to finding future reading! 

From the list I have read just twelve of the books:

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

Small Island by Andrea Levy

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Girl, Woman Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

I loved reading every single one of these books and in fact two of them are in my personal top three books - The Remains of the Day and The Handmaid's Tale (my third is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier). So despite the fact that the list also includes two books that I started but didn't get along with (Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel) it looks as though there are plenty of books here that would really appeal to me.

I've been through the list and picked three which I liked the sound of. I decided on them because they are fairly recently published, one was a Booker prize winner and one was shortlisted and I find I always enjoy Booker prize winning books, and finally I found them all second hand on my favourite second hand book website Wob, with a 15% discount code when you buy three books in the promotion!

I've ordered The Secret River by Kate Grenville, The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields and The Bone People by Keri Hulme. I'll let you know how I get on with them!

Reading a book
Photo credit Clay Banks via Unsplash

Friday, 20 May 2022

Making some new fabric bunting for the garden

A few years ago I made some fabric bunting to hang across the entrance to our vegetable patch area. It was never intended to last forever, and as spring approached it was looking decidedly scruffy so I knew that it was time for an upgrade.

I had some gorgeous beach hut fabric in my fabric stash, and as I'm intending to make it into a seaside themed area I knew that it would be the perfect choice. I alternated the patterned flags with some plain green so as not to be too overwhelming, and it is all sewn to a length of green ribbon for hanging.

Garden fabric bunting with beach huts

This is the third set of bunting that I've now made for the garden, and although my method is a bit rough and ready I'm really pleased with how it looks! I have a cardboard triangle template which I've used before, and I cut out a front and back piece for each flag. Then I turn the good sides together, sew around the long edges and turn them the right way around. I trim across the tops so they are all even and then I just sew them to a length of ribbon.

This time I sewed the flags to the top and bottom of the ribbon to hopefully keep them lying nice and flat and stop them twisting too much. I leave a long length of ribbon at each end for tying to the trellis, and sometimes I secure with a drawing pin or two if they are blowing about too much. They look so bright and colourful, and will hopefully keep looking good for a few more years at least!

Simple fabric bunting for the garden with beach huts

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

My life lately - May 2022

I thought I'd do a little life update with some of the things that I've been doing and enjoying lately!

Reading

I wrote recently about the books that I read on holiday, and now I'm working through the rest of the free books that I downloaded and didn't get to. Then I have a haul of second hand paperbacks waiting by my bedside table. 

A book that I really enjoyed recently was one of my Amazon First Read selections - The Candid Life of Meena Dave by Namrata Patel. It falls under one of my favourite genres - a woman inherits a house full of secrets - and this book is about a woman who is Indian but was adopted and raised in a white Catholic family and has no knowledge about her heritage. She discovers that an unknown woman has left her an apartment in a block that was purchased by Indian students who moved to the US to study engineering so that they could take their skills back to India. It's now inhabited by their descendants, who introduce her to their culture despite not knowing exactly why she has been left the apartment. I enjoyed reading a new take on a favourite genre.

The Candid Life of Meena Dave by Namrata Patel

Watching

We are so behind with our television watching! There are lots of series that I have lined up to watch - Bridgerton, Life After Life, The Time Traveller's Wife, The Essex Serpent...I just need to find the time!

We've just started the new and final season of Better Call Saul which is looking good. I've also discovered a little programme on Netflix called Old Enough which we are enjoying watching, each episode is only about ten minutes long and it follows a small child in Japan who is sent out to run errands and filmed to see how they get on. It's very sweet! Finally we enjoyed watching Moon Knight as a family, the latest Marvel series on Disney+ and definitely one of the better ones.

Listening

Lately on the school run I've been enjoying listening to piano music. I have a playlist on Spotify called 'Relaxing Piano' and I do find that it helps me feel calm when driving. I'm enjoying playing the piano too myself and so I like to hear fancier versions of the pieces that I play. In particular I'm enjoying listening to Ludovico Einaudi.

Playing

I'm still enjoying Pikmin Bloom on my phone, although I accept that I'm probably one of the only people in the country playing it! It's a simple mobile game that is a little bit like Pokemon Go in that it uses a map and your walking data to play. You collect seedlings which take a certain amount of steps to grow, and when you pluck them they become a Pikmin which is a little character that follows you around and plants flowers. If you collect seeds from certain places then when you have fed them enough nectar they put on a decoration related to where you picked them up, and so you can collect lots of different décor which is where I'm at now in the game. I have lots of beach, café, park and forest Pikmin but I'm still working on lots of the others, like the different shops which include sweet, sushi and clothing. I have it on when I'm out running, and it encourages me to run to different places to try and pick up the ones I'm missing.

Creating

I've been working on a cross stitch snowflake piece for Christmas which I'm quite proud of. I've worked up my own pattern for an embroidery hoop design, and I'll be publishing it on the blog as winter approaches.

Snowflake cross stitch in progress

I'm also working on some bits for the garden - I'm planning to make some fresh bunting and paint some plant pots.

Travelling to

Over the Easter holiday we had a wonderful holiday to Mauritius with lots of sunshine, time to relax and sightseeing. Then we managed another trip to Monkey World to see Mia's adopted gibbon and other primate friends.

I've also been up to London twice, having not visited for over two years. The first was a lovely surprise trip for our wedding anniversary. We went to watch Les Misérables, which is my favourite musical, and also went Swingers for some tipsy mini golf! Then last week we went to the Young Voices concert at the O2 to watch Mia perform. It was so strange seeing all the crowds and everyone out and about, it really did feel as though things are now back to normal.

Swingers mini golf club in London

Coming up

I can't believe that the summer term is so short, with the half term holiday in just a couple of weeks! We have booked an Airbnb in Bournemouth for the week which is on the beach and looks lovely. It's Mia's birthday that week, and so there will be at least one trip to Monkey World while we are there.

Then it will just be the countdown to the end of term, and the end of Mia's time at primary school which will be emotional I'm sure. Fingers crossed the weather this summer will be better than last year, I want to enjoy some garden time!

Monday, 16 May 2022

Some of my favourite book themes

This post contains Amazon affiliate links

I read widely - newly published books and older classics, female and male authors, historical and contemporary. I flit between easy reads and more complicated texts. However I find that I'm often drawn to the same themes, and here are some that I've been enjoying recently:

The inherited house renovation romance - A woman inherits a house from a distant or unknown relative, usually at a point in her life where she is going through a life change. The house has an idyllic  location in a small town, often by the sea. It's run down and old fashioned but still habitable. While sorting through the possessions left in the house she discovers hidden secrets and learns more about herself and her history. There's usually a romance involving a handsome local man who is helping with the building work or connected to the house in some way.

I've enjoyed lots of books with this theme, two very recent examples are The Candid Life of Meena Dave by Namrata Patel and The Vanishing Tide by Hilary Tailor (both Amazon First Reads and will be published on the 1st June 2022.) I also liked The Sea Gate by Jane Johnson.

Opening a bookshop (see also café, sweetshop) - A woman going through some sort of life change decides to move in a new direction and open up a bookshop or similar. She usually has some sort of help to get started, for example she inherits or is given a lot of books or other relevant supplies. She is greeted with distrust by the locals, including the inevitable eligible bachelor, but she wins everyone over and becomes part of the community. 

Some examples - The Bookshop on the Corner and The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan.

The middle aged woman reinvention story - A mother to older teenagers realises that now her children have grown and no longer need her she has forgotten to live her own life and doesn't know where to start. Sometimes prompted by meeting an old flame. So she does something drastic - often upping and leaving her family, meeting new people and finding new interests.

From my recent reads - Worn Out Wife Seeks New Life by Carmen Reid, Ladder of Years and Back When We Were Grown Ups by Anne Tyler.

Time travel and repeated chances - There are many books with these themes, but I like stories where time travel is used as a device to see the same story from different viewpoints, or to see how something might have turned out differently.

Some older reads - The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (both of which have recently been dramatised for television). Also Should We Stay or Should We Go by Lionel Shriver which explores various different results caused by one decision.

On a similar note, immortality or having a second chance to try something - for example How to Stop Time by Matt Haig, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab, Meet me In Another Life by Catriona Silvey.

Pile of books opened pages
Photo credit Gülfer ERGİN via Unsplash

These are just some of the books I've been enjoying. If you've read any books similar to those mentioned above then I would love to hear your recommendations!

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