Friday 6 December 2019

The Matchmaker - A Book Review

I absolutely love the idea of matchmaking. I also love Fred from ‘First Dates,’ I mean who can resist a smart man with a gorgeous French accent? Honestly, I could quite happily listen to him chat away in French or English, all day long. Anyway, as usual I have digressed, but  there is a point to my slight aside, since I have been very fortunate to be gifted a copy of The Matchmaker to read in exchange for an honest and unbiased review; and given that it is inspired by the aforementioned show, I was suitably excited and extremely happy to have the opportunity to do so.

Since Innes works for Cosmopolitan as their Features Director, I had very high hopes for the standard of writing and story construction (back in the day, I was a huge Cosmo fan) and I can say hand on heart, I was not disappointed. From the very first paragraph, she draws you into the story, endearing you to the central character, Caitlin Carter, who disillusioned with her career in PR, sets up her own business as a Matchmaker. She is inspired to follow this path having met and married the love of her love Harry, and having a natural ability to know, just who will click with whom. These two things make Catlin very successful and her business, goes from strength to strength, with people eager to sign up and an Instagram account aspiring bloggers would give their right arm for! However, as we read on, it becomes clear, all is not as it seems to be.

I really enjoyed this book. Actually, I enjoyed it so much, I really didn't want to finish it and found myself missing Caitlin, her friends and her story; which makes writing a review horrendously difficult. What I want to do is blurt out the entire story to you, but obviously I can’t do that because that would completely ruin it for you. What I can do, is tell you that this is a well written book; the story flows effortlessly, the characters are well thought out and are easy to relate to (worryingly, I found I related most to Caitlin during a visit to the zoo - you'll need to read the book to find out what I mean). I particularly loved the way Innes cleverly drops breadcrumbs, letting the reader know that something is off, giving clues the further into the story we go, but without ruining the twist once it is finally revealed in full.

This isn’t the rom com I thought it was going to be, this is a journey of self discovery, friendship, support, family and change. There are highs and lows, laughter and tears, and holding it all together is love in all it's forms. If you are looking for a story to inspire you and remind you that even in the darkest times, hope's light still shines, then this is for you. I really hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

The Matchmaker is now available in paperback RRP £8.99.

Monday 4 November 2019

Alternative Christmas Gift Guide - Part 2

We made an early start on the Christmas gift guide this year, with some ideas which will help benefit our climate. If you missed it you can catch up here. That post was inspired by my sixteen year old daughter, Miss. D, who was concerned about the destruction of the rainforest and now wants to gift everyone a tree planted in the rainforest. Her idea made me wonder what else could be gifted to people, which ultimately would benefit our planet. However, there are other gifts you can give to the folk who have it all, which benefit communities.

Gifts which benefit communities are a great idea for those hard to buy for people. As you can often match them up to interests or professions. As a family, we have used these in the past and I would highly recommend them.

Christmas gift wrapped in brown paper & tied with string

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

Everyone needs a best friend. It doesn't really matter who that friend is, just so long as they're kind, loyal, listen, make you laugh and you have each others backs, because that's what friends do. I am really lucky to have some amazing friends. People who have got me through the toughest of times, people who are always there for me and who I hope, I am always there for too. They are everything friends should be, even though I've never met many of them. They are my Tweeps. A community of friends on Twitter. Some are other bloggers, others are authors, others are just fabulous people who like to socialise with like-minded folk!

As 'real-life' friends go, I have few and that suits me just fine. Quality rather than quantity; and those I do have are the best of the best. Which given the way things are going at the moment is a flipping good thing. Yes, a true friend is worth their weight in gold and one or two of mine really have been absolute diamonds this past week.

Monday 21 October 2019

Beauty Sleep - A Review

It’s no secret, my favourite animal is a sloth. I adore them. They are so cute and friendly looking; they don’t rush to do anything, and they do like to sleep. Perhaps that is why I like them so much, because I do like my sleep. My bed is one of my favourite places to be. It’s warm, it’s cosy and it’s comfy. The perfect recipe for a good night’s sleep; which is good, because much as I love sloths, sleeping hanging from a tree is not an option for me and even if it were, let’s face it, I wouldn’t last five seconds before falling to the ground in a big heap. I’d need a very big crash mat beneath my tree, or at the very list a nice soft, comfy bunch of pillows.

Speaking of pillows, it is so important to have a good one on which to rest your weary head at the end of a busy day. There is nothing worse than tossing and turning all night because your pillow isn’t right and then waking up with a pain in the neck (and no, I am not referring to your other half). Yes, the right pillow really can make all the difference.

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Alternative Christmas Gifts

Yep, I know, we're all desperately trying to forget that it's just around the corner, but it's now reached a point where trying to hide from Christmas in the supermarkets, High Streets and online stores is well and truly, absobloominglutely impossible (trust me, I've tried). Only yesterday in Morrisons (other supermarkets are available), was I bombarded by Christmas gifts shouting at me from one side of the aisle, whilst the other side was full of Halloween themed items; which might I add, did not look too impressed at having their thunder stolen by a holiday two months away!

Anyway, that aside, there really is no escaping it, so we may just as well embrace it and start preparing, or not, because if I'm honest, the last thing I actually want to do is start buying presents only to have to pack them for the impending house move, to then lose the bloody things and find them again in six summer's time! Miss. D, though has come up with a solution, so Christmas preparations can indeed begin soon.

Christmas gifts wrapped in brown paper and tied with string

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Climate Change - What Can I Do?

No one can say they are unaware of the issues our planet is facing, unless they've been living under a rock for the past 30 years or so! We've been discussing the hole in the ozone layer for decades, indeed as our dear, sweet, diplomatic PM Boris Johnson has reminded us, Maggie Thatcher was on to fighting those nasty greenhouse gases when she was in power, decades before Greta Thunberg was a twinkle in her father's eye (yeah right Boris, in that case why is the planet boiling itself to death then).

We've been encouraged to recycle for decades and yet, here we are now, at crisis point and time really is running out. For too long we have expected others to sort it out and taken no personal responsibility. I'm not guilt free at all, I realise I'm to blame as much as the next person. Doing my bit has extended to doing a bit of recycling each week and turning things off instead of leaving them on standby etc., but that simply is not enough. I need to up my game!

Friday 4 October 2019

Hever Castle

Last week was a tough old week, to be fair, this week hasn't been without it's stresses either. Everywhere I look, I am surrounded by boxes and there are still more that need to be packed. I've given myself a week off from packing; it's not such a big deal, the chain is still not complete as the people at the top are having difficulty finding a property (I hope they find one soon though, I have children who need to get into new schools/colleges). I did get a number of new boxes packed last week though and after a busy time, I decided very last minute that yes, I would accompany the OH on his camping trip to Hever. This went down well with him, apart from the fact I'd left it so late in the day, that he'd already packed the car and then had to squeeze the big tent, and my mattress, in to an already full car.

Hever Castle, as most of you will know, I'm sure, is the childhood home of poor Anne Boleyn, who quite literally lost her head, poor girl (Henry VIII may have been a king, but a good husband, he was not). Nowadays, Hever is a tourist attraction, with various events going on throughout the year. Last weekend it was the Hever Castle Triathlon, and the OH was there to look after the participants during the open water swim in his kayak (or if I want to wind him up, his canoe - kayakers hate if you call their boat a canoe).

Hever Castle, Kent, United Kingdom
Hever Castle, Kent, United Kingdom

Thursday 3 October 2019

National Poetry Day 2019

Since today is National Poetry Day, I think it's time I came out with it and admitted to being something of a closet poetry fan. I have a collection of three or four poetry books which I dig out from time to time. I would provide photographic proof, but they are currently nestled in a packing box ready to move to a new home. I thought I was being super organised packing away things that aren't used every day, until I realised that today is NPD day and it would have been nice to take a picture of my books to share with you. I shall endeavour to put that right next year, and perhaps add to my collection.

Anyway, as usual, I have gone somewhat off topic again (no surprise there), but I must say a huge thank you to Channel 4's Sunday Brunch for flagging this day up for me when they had the fabulous Gyles Brandreth on. I confess, I am a something of a 'Gyles' fan. He's so intelligent, funny and just has a way of brightening your day with his colourful character. He's also passionate about poetry and during his interview was sharing the benefits of learning poetry by heart (remember those days at school?). Apparently, doing this can help prevent dementia, which has to be a good reason to give it a go.

Thursday 26 September 2019

Minecraft Mum

Yep, you read that right the first time. Yes I know you had to read it twice! Moi? Minecrafting? Mais oui! Don't ask why I just switched to French there, I have no idea either. To be quite honest with you, I have no flipping idea what I'm doing at the moment. This morning has seen me going up and down the stairs like a yo-yo retrieving things I've left downstairs in the kitchen, only to return to the first floor living room to realise I've not retrieved what I went for in the first place. It took me three trips just to retrieve my tea and then my glasses, the latter of which I went to fetch on my first trip! So, should I slip into a petit peu of French bear with, I've clearly lost my mind! Oh and before I forget, on yet another different subject (because yes, I am aware, I have indeed gone off on a tangent, again) I have also gone up and down the stairs, making up and filling a couple more packing boxes, so I have managed to be productive in my confused state.

However, having digressed so far, I feel it's time we got back to the point, for I am now a Minecrafter!

Minecraft image
Minecraft - My House and My Dog, Snowy

Wednesday 25 September 2019

A (Not So) Tall Story

Ah, the weekend! The time when you spend time with your family, enjoy one another's company and pretend you are not some crazy, dysfunctional group of people at all! To be honest, we stopped doing that last bit some time ago. Getting the kids out with me is enough of a win, I really can't be doing with pretending to be all 'Little House on the Prairie,' too, which is why we probably leave a crazy trail of destruction behind us.

Anyway, Sunday morning saw me manage to get my youngest out of the house. Not going to lie, I was so shocked she agreed, that I wondered if it was national news worthy (anyone with teenagers will know how monumental this is). So off we popped to a small local shopping centre, complete with pharmacy, so that the other half could get his man flu medicine (he really was not a well boy). Whilst the boy was raiding Boots with his snot and sneezes, Miss. L and I had a good old look round The Body Shop. If I had no idea what to get for her upcoming birthday before, I now have more ideas than I really need, there was a whole lot of stuff in there she wanted. Combine that with her obsession with food storage containers in TK Maxx and we're sorted (no I'm not going to buy her Tupperware - even I'm not that crap a mum).

Thursday 19 September 2019

The Dog Ate my Homework

Hands up if you have ever, actually used that classic excuse, 'Sorry Miss, the dog ate my homework.' I don't think I did, but it would have been pretty plausible given our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Rupert, was an absolute little bugger for eating anything and everything he shouldn't. My mum still has pens with Rupert teeth marks (though quite why, I do not know; who keeps pens that long, and I'm talking 30+ years here). Not that I was particularly great at doing my homework, unless it was art or flute practise. Quite how I have managed to raise at least one daughter who is always studying and doing homework, I am not sure, but thank goodness I have; there really is nothing worse than getting to Sunday and having to do everything in a panic!

Tuesday 17 September 2019

The Mess

Let me make it very clear from the offset, I am not a super house proud, everything in it's place, kind of a girl. As a general rule, my house is quite tidy, but not in a 'no one' lives here 'show home' kind of  way. Good grief, I have two teenage daughters, an orange dog and a black and white cat, who insists on fluffing all over my cream carpets, seconds after I have vacuumed them (I love the cat, but I do not love bits of the cat randomly scattered on freshly vacuumed carpet). I don't like mess! I love a cupboard and drawers. They're great for stashing crap in and giving the illusion that you are a super organised woman who has it all together; just don't open my cupboards or drawers! Please!

That said, I am certainly not, what one might call a hoarder. I go through said cupboards and drawers at least once a year, sometimes twice, and get rid of anything that is redundant. There really is only so much one can fit into a home before it bursts at the seams. And might I add, my loft is empty and my garage is pretty much empty, apart form a handful of things which are earmarked for the tip, once the fiance is free to come down with his trailer. To clarify, I don't like mess and at the moment, that is exactly what my home is, a mess!

Sunday 15 September 2019

Kenya, A Mountain to Climb - Book Review

As many of you who read this blog regularly will know, I suffer with mental illness. I have a diagnosis of depression and anxiety, which was first made almost ten years ago. Unlike some people, I know my diagnosis is a 'forever' condition. My father suffers and so does my youngest daughter. For some of us, there is an hereditary element. In some ways, I'd rather that, it makes it easier for me to manage. I'm able to identify my triggers and let those close to me know my triggers, enabling myself, and others, to rein me in when necessary and practise some self care. I'm lucky, to have a fabulous next door neighbour, an amazing fiance and two wonderful daughters, who tell me to take a break when they can see I'm taking on too much.

I also have some awesome friends on Twitter, people who got me through my darkest days and to the place I am now in; which is a place where I work my wee butt off to raise awareness of mental illness and try to help people living with a diagnosis, or caring for someone, to cope and seek help. Hence, when I saw that Rod Wood was looking for people to review his latest book, I jumped at the chance.

Tuesday 3 September 2019

Things Can Only Get Better

Apologies all, here I am telling you I'm back to blogging and then I go and disappear for a week; not the best really, so I do, wholeheartedly apologise. Last week did not go to plan, or it did, well it was just a kind of messy week, but in a mostly very good and positive way, but it did mean I had no blogging time. Also, as much as I love a bank holiday, is it just me, or do they just throw everything out for the following couple of weeks? Honestly, even now, over a week on I have no idea what day of the week it is! Perhaps I'm just getting a bit old and need to be put out to pasture?

Thursday 22 August 2019

GCSE Results Day

Well it's finally here, the big day. The day that teens across the country have been anxiously awaiting, or dreading, or attempting to ignore at all costs in the vague hope it won't arrive. Whatever, the long wait is over and the results of all those exams is finally over. Up and down the country 16 year olds have miraculously prised themselves out of their much loved beds and are school bound. I'll be honest, this is all a wee bit alien to me, our 'O' Level and CSE results (yes I am that old) were posted to us, there was none of this going to school during the holidays. In hind sight, I would have preferred going to collect them rather than sitting, worrying and looking out for the postman, but that's all in the past. Today it's off to school and it's time for envelopes to be opened, and futures to begin.

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Julie May Lingerie Review

Now I’m not sure how much common knowledge this may be, but certainly amongst close friends and family, I am known for my love of underwear and my need to wear matching undies. This has caused much amusement to many people. Over the years I have relaxed a little, but even if the undies are not from the same collection, they must be matching in colour; also a very important rule, they can only not be matching if they are plain, simple undies, if they’re lacy or fancy in any way, then they absolutely have to be from the same collection. In short, if the undies don’t match, I feel uncomfortable all day and less confident (don’t ask me why, it’s not like anyone can see I’m unmatching, but that’s how it is).

Anyway, as usual I have digressed somewhat, the point of the undies talk is that I am a very lucky and very happy girl, because the lovely folk at Julie May were kind enough to let me review their beautiful Serenity range.

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Left-Handers Day 2019

Are you left-handed or do you know a left-hander? Well today is Left-Handers day and since we have a left-hander in the family, namely Miss D, it seems only right that we at least acknowledge it and maybe even treat her to something to make her life just a wee bit easier.

That said, she was a very lucky girl when she started school in reception class. She had two teachers, one of whom was left handed, and a left handed teaching assistant. This helped her tremendously. I know some left handed children can really struggle in school because the way in which they form their letters is different, not to mention nothing is set up for them, but having teaching staff who understood, meant we avoided that and I have never, ever seen a single smudge in any of her school books throughout her entire school career! Scissors are still an issue though and I really should invest in a pair just for her.


Saturday 10 August 2019

Forget Me Not

OK, the title may be a little misleading, so if you're expecting to read a piece on horticulture and the delicate, but beautiful, little blue flower, Forget Me Not, or to use it's Latin name (I've done my homework here) myosotis sylvatica, you will likely be somewhat disappointed. However, I do aim to please, so let me share with you some fun facts which I have gleaned from my flora and fauna research (the rest of you, bear with me here and/ or prepared to be blown away by my channelling of my inner Charlie Dimmock - minus the bust, she has far more 'bustage' going on than myself).

Now, back to the humble Forget Me Not. Not only is it pretty, but my reading has shown that it flowers in spring, will pretty much grow anywhere, in any kind of soil and it doesn't care if it's in full or partial sun, and the best part, it doesn't need pruning! I'm thinking this could be a plant for me, because I am not known for my gardening expertise, so the easier and less fussy the plant the better! And, it's the state flower of Alaska,  I bet you didn't know that; unless you're Alaskan, or know all your US state flowers, or you're just one of those really clever people.

Forget Me Not Flowers

Tuesday 6 August 2019

Days Out in Kent

It's fair to say that the summer holidays are long and daunting, particularly if you have little ones that need a wee bit more entertaining than my two teenage girls. That said, even teens need to be dragged out of their rooms from time to time for a good dose of vitamin D. I find it's easier to persuade them out if you tell them they can bring a friend. This may sound like an expensive day out, but some years ago I took the plunge and joined English Heritage as a Family Member. It's paid for itself so many times over, because my membership allows me to get a shed load (OK, just a car load) of kids in free. This was particularly helpful, when Miss D wanted to take a friend to Dover Castle for History GCSE revision. We have some fantastic places to visit for days out in Kent, and a lot of the English Heritage sites put on special days for the school holidays.

Days Out in Kent

Wednesday 31 July 2019

Vets, Pets and Vaccines

This week has seen our pet pooch Max, heading off to the vet's for his annual vaccines. I always feel a wee bit mean, possibly more so than I did when it was my daughter's going to the Doctor's for their vaccinations; I'm not entirely sure what that says about me and I probably don't want to know either, though I have a sneaking suspicion, I could be considered a crap mum! Anyway, I knew where I was going to be taking the little chap, and as horrid as the weather forecast looked yesterday, I felt obliged to try and dodge the clouds and take him for a nice walk, or perhaps a nice sniff, since that is what he seems to do more of. You may have caught his last post (cheeky chap), where he pretty much admitted to sniffing more than usual to get me back for having his hair cut! If you didn't, you can catch up here.

A Happy Max Before His Vaccines at the Vets

Monday 29 July 2019

Me Time

Last Friday, I waved my girls off for a week's holiday with their Dad. It was an interesting affair. Miss. D was a bit stroppy because Dad was early (or something) and she was still trying to soak off her acrylic nails (which she had put on for her prom) and as any of us who have ever had acrylics will know, they are a bugger to get off and require more patience than most sixteen year old girls have. So when she left she was in a rush because, one cannot be seen with some nails on and some nails off, even if you are travelling from one home, by car, to another with no stops along the way. Miss. L wasn't super happy either, but for different reasons. She's not been too well recently and is currently waiting to see CAMHS after her holiday. She'd spent most of the previous week glued to me, which to be honest, has been rather nice, but it meant we had a few tears when she was leaving. After a bit of reassurance from myself and her father, she was off and even managed a little smile when Max waved her off with his paw.

Wednesday 24 July 2019

My Revenge

Hello, it's me, Max. Did you forget me? I been away a long time. I tried really hard to get to Mummy's laptop thingy, but her was on it ALL the time doing something called 'work.' It not good enough, little orange me needs to talk to all you lovely peoples, not just the peoples I live with. Tween me and you, me get a bit bored with them sometimes, even Sparkle cat is a girl. It not easy living with girls. It also not good, girls want you to smell like a girl. Little me spends a long time getting nice and scruffy and smelly, just the way I like to be and then, they take me to the place of bubbles and brushes and lots of other nasty clean stuffs. When me leaves I look like this...

Sunday 21 July 2019

About Calories

Calories! The bane of most over 30's lives. They're the reason we watch what we eat and why some people choose to reduce themselves to a sweaty, Lycra clad mess, for an annual small fortune at a local gym. Not that I'm judging, if that's what floats your boat, then you go for it; I'd rather dress in a more flattering manner and trudge several thousand steps a day, come rain or shine (more shine) with our little orange doggy, but again, that's not everyone's cup of tea, especially when you factor in picking up poo. Anyway, back to the point, calories, those pesky things that stop us from even having one dessert, let alone the two we had back in our teens and twenties.

Monday 15 July 2019

A Day in Dover

It's no surprise to those of you who know me, but one of my favourite places to spend a day out, is Dover Castle. I absolutely love it, and the only thing that can possibly make it better is a warm, sunny day, with views across the channel to France. Yes, you really can see France! One day, I shall take my passport with me and hop on the next ferry to the land of fresh baguettes, mouth wateringly, gorgeous cheese, and vats of lush wine...but I digress, a sunny, clear day at Dover Castle is hard to beat.

Dover Castle, Kent

Monday 8 July 2019

It's Time to Get Started - Again

It's been a long, long time since I did anything with my blog and if I'm honest, I feel a wee bit guilty about it. I mean once upon a time, I had a lovely posting routine, I got to chat to you all regularly and, well, it was just a little bit awesome. Then it all went pear shaped (bit of an understatement, I know) and I had to find me and try to rebuild my life. Part of that involved starting the business up, but in doing so, poor Little Orange Dog has been very neglected (obviously, I'm talking about the blog, not our 'actual' little orange doggy). Now, I think it may be time to start over and well, get a bit serious about this blogging lark again.

Friday 4 January 2019

What a Difference a Year Makes

I've not posted for a very, very long time and there's a reason for that, if you want to know why, please do read on and I will reveal all. As it happens, I've not posted for that long, I am amazed I even remembered my password. Trust me the fact I did, is a huge surprise to me because I generally walk into a room forget why I'm there only to remember when I return to the lounge...repeat three times and eventually I get there.

Anyway, where have I been, what have I been doing and what does the future hold? All very good questions. So without further ado, lets get on. I'll try and keep it brief, but you may want to grab yourself a cuppa and settle in, just in case I ramble on for longer than I intended.