My Sunday Photo – June 17th, 2018.

IMG_5431

One of the first things you see when you arrive at Kelling Heath Holiday Park is the red squirrel enclosure.

The park is part of a national scheme for the captive breeding of red squirrels, which, as I’m sure you know, are native to Britain but under severe threat from the introduced American grey squirrels.

We spent last weekend at Kelling again (without the fog) and this time there were some babies to coo over. I was photographing them through bars so you’ll have to excuse the picture quality.

IMG_5435

Aren’t they gorgeous?

IMG_5412

As usual, I’m taking part in Darren’s My Sunday Photo link up. To see what other people have submitted please click on the camera below.

Photalife

 

Advertisements

Book Review: Falling Short.

fallingshortThe cover caught my attention and the blurb lured me in but it was the quality of the writing that gripped me to the end.

Lex Coulton has been described as a “true new talent” and, after reading her debut, Falling Short, I think that quote is spot on.

Even in the first few pages the book felt markedly different – in a good way.

There are two central characters, Frances and Jackson, who both have strong and believable voices.

Parts of their story made my heart actually hurt while others made me laugh out loud but afterwards I realised the strangest thing…I wasn’t sure if I really liked either of them.

Here’s the blurb:

School-teacher Frances Pilgrim’s father vanished when she was five, and since then other things have been going missing too: car-keys, promotions, an endless roster of unsuitable boyfriends . . . And now here she is, thirty-bloody-nine and still losing things. 

Frances needs someone to talk to. Ideally to Jackson: fellow teacher, dedicated hedonist, erstwhile best friend. Only they haven’t spoken since that night last summer where they had too many glasses of Merlot (oh, large, please . . .) and things got complicated.

But now she has a much more pressing problem. Her mother Mary, whose odd behaviour Frances has long put down to eccentricity, is slowly yielding to Alzheimer’s, leaving Frances with some disturbing questions about her father’s disappearance, and the family history she’s always believed in.

As the new school year begins, and Mary’s behaviour becomes more and more erratic, Frances realises that she might just have a chance to find something for once. But will it be what she’s looking for?

Maybe not ‘liking’ them is the wrong way to describe it, it was more that there were elements of their characters I found frustrating, intriguing and confusing – just like in real life, I suppose.

People are complicated and I think part of Lex’s talent is writing characters who don’t feel like characters. Both Frances and Jackson felt like real people, people who don’t follow a linear path, who make mistakes, who live lives that ‘fall short’ and perhaps do things differently to how I would.

It didn’t detract from how well the story read, if anything it made it more interesting. I will say that by the end I was willing for good things to happen to poor Frances (I won’t spoil it by saying more).

Maybe it won’t be for everyone but I found her writing exciting and I’m looking forward to what comes next.

Format: Kindle.

Price: £4.99 (on Amazon).

My rating: Five stars.

With thanks to John Murray (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.

I was lucky enough to interview Lex ahead of publication for my Behind The Book series. You can read it here.

A Year Of Bullet Journalling – Pros And Cons.

journal

On paper (see what I did there) bullet journalling looks right up my street: nice notebooks, ALL the pens, pretty stickers, fancy fonts and procrastination? Tick, tick and tick.

I’ve always had a paper diary, even when I was at work and we also used online ones, but when I first heard about bullet journalling it sounded like an even better way to keep myself organised.

What is a bullet journal?

Dubbed the “analog system for the digital age”, a bullet journal is a flexible DIY system for organising everything in your life. As well as a diary it can include things such as sketchbook, sleep tracker, a gratitude log and travel bucket list. As you are the one setting it up, you include whatever you like.

“Where productivity meets mindfulness.”

I started my first bullet journal a year ago – actually I started two, the first set up went wrong so I had to start again (good job I have a stash of notebooks!). There are any number of ways to set up a bullet journal (there’s a helpful video here) and you can be as creative and colourful as you like (or not, it’s up to you).

I had visions of beautiful, instagrammable pages until I remembered, that’s right, I’m not artistic and, oh, I’m also in charge of a (then) three-year-old (or was she in charge of me?) so reasonably time poor.

While it might not have looked very inspiring, I really enjoyed the freedom to create what I wanted and needed rather than having a regimented system.

My set up went like this:

Birthdays.

Monthly log – all 12 months.

Daily log – set up each day.

I then went to the back and set up:

A monthly blog planner.

TBR book list.

Travel bucket list.

Christmas present list.

Random notes section.

What did I think?

As the time has come to decide whether to set up another journal up or go back to the old all-done-for-you diary, I thought I’d make a list of the pros and cons to help me work out what’s best.

Pros Cons

There’s a lot to love about bullet journalling, especially for someone who enjoys pens and stationery as much as me.

I really liked the day to day list and felt it helped me keep better track of what I was supposed to be doing. I felt less stressed about it, for some reason. I also liked that there was space so that I could keep everything in one place rather than on random scraps of paper that tend to get lost.

However, my overall feeling as the year progressed was guilt. I know that’s silly but I felt like I wasn’t doing it justice (and that’s self-imposed because no one other than me ever saw it). All the extra things I could have included that you simply don’t get in a conventional diary never saw the light of day because I didn’t have time (or I did have time but it would mean something else I felt was more important falling by the wayside).

So, what next?

IMG_7548

It has been a tough choice but I have gone back to the old style diary (and not just because it has butterflies on the front).  I will be using bullet journal elements within it but for the time it takes to set up and what I was using it for, it made more sense to buy a ready made diary and just adapt it to my needs. I’m not saying I’ll never bullet journal again but not for the next year at least.

Are you a fan of the bullet journal? What do you love about it? Would you ever go back to an old style diary?