Friday letters

Hooray for Friday! I have been so, so tired all week so now I’m looking forward to just chilling for a while But first I have a whole day of work ahead of me. Aaah.

Here are some letters.

Letters

Dear BBC Entertainment. It is very annoying that you neither show up in the TV Guide nor have any information available when I press the “Info” button. I never know when anything is on you, so I just have to keep flicking over to make sure I’m not missing something good. (Currently loving “The Coroner” but I keep forgetting what time it starts and missing the beginning. Grrr.)

Dear sunflower. We did not plant you, but somehow you have grown in one of our pots. Luckily I like sunflowers, so you were an unexpected treat.

Dear ice cream. Whyyy must you be so tasty? Luckily it’s also been too hot to cook recently so I’ve been balancing you out with salad. It seems to be working – the number on the scales is only fluctuating slightly (but refusing to go down any further, ever. Which is totally your fault, ice cream). Speaking of which…

Dear scales. I was entirely unimpressed with the number you showed me this morning. I ate fruit for breakfast yesterday. Fruit! Surely that should result in instant weight loss? 😉

Dear bookshelves. You appear to be overflowing again. I’m really not sure how that could have happened… 😉

Well, that’s all from me for today. Have a great weekend everyone!

 

 

35 Before 35: Progress report 7

A blog post two days in a row? What is this madness? I hear you cry! Well, it’s exactly a month until my 34th birthday (HELP!) so I thought I’d better check what progress I’ve made on my 35 before 35 list since my last check in – which was in January, apparently.

Number 13:  Read (or re-read) 50 non-fiction books

I was up to 18 last time, and now I’m on a grand total of…. *drum roll* … 19. Yeah. I read A Sense of Style by Steve Pinker. I reviewed it yesterday.

Number 15: Read 30 books in German

Last time I was up to 22, and now I’m on 24. So a whole 2 for this category.  Die Stille Braut by Barbara Wenken (okay) and Märchenwald by Martin Krist (really good!).

Number 21: Read all the books from the BBC Big Read that I hadn’t before starting this challenge

I’d read 46 last time and now I’m on 56! Finally some real progress. I’m not going to list them all, so you can see all the Big Read books I’ve read here. I have 67 left to read… theoretically it’s possible, as long as I stop reading everything else!

Number 30: Learn to crochet or knit (or both)

I haven’t written a post on it yet, but I did loom knit a bunch of tiny hats (too small for even a newborn, but recognisable as hats) and one and a half socks for myself. Loom knitting isn’t exactly knitting, but the items are made of wool and look knitted so I’ve decided it can count.

Number 31. Watch 35 films I’ve never seen before

I had made it to 29 last time… and now I’m finished! I’ve actually managed to watch all six of the films I still needed this year. I completed this item by watching Kajaki. You can see what else I’ve watched here.

Number 34: Drink champagne in Champagne.

Woohoo! I actually did this. Thank you Germany and your ridiculous amount of public holidays in the spring! I wrote about it here.

So, I have made some progress on the reading front, discovered a new hobby in loom knitting (because I totally need even more sedentary hobbies with the way the scales are looking!), crossed off one more travel item and actually managed to watch films for a change. With one year and one month to go, I obviously won’t manage everything (especially not all the travel-related items) but hopefully I will at least get all the reading crossed off. Wish me luck!

The books I read in June 2017

Exciting news everyone… I am just over halfway through Erin‘s latest book challenge! (Thank you train journeys!) But I’m getting ahead of myself… clearly books read for the challenge come under my July reading and I’m here to talk about June.

The Show Us Your Books link-up was technically yesterday, but it was one of my days to be in the office in Germany, which meant I was out of the house all day (from 6:20 a.m.) and had no time for blogging. I’m still allowed to add my link today though, and so I shall.

show-us-your-books-2016-300by300

My June reading looks a little better than May’s, mainly because I finished two books that I had started previously… As always my books are simply listed in the order I read them.

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. This one took me forever to read! I started it in April and battled with it for the whole of May. At first I really liked the story but had to force myself not to skim the philosophy bits – they just read too much like a textbook for me! Later, when Sophie actually met the philosopher and it was more of a conversation, I got more into the philosophy bits – at least until Sophie started explaining the philosophical concepts back to him in a way that I can’t imagine any 15 year old speaking (and totally differently to her “voice” throughout the rest of the book). Then right after showing she had understood a difficult philosophical concept she would ask the meaning of a relatively simple word. What? (That probably sounds confusing – I wish I had written down an example). Overall I liked the book and it does provide a good introduction to philosophy and give you something to think about (are we really living our lives? How can we be sure?). I wavered between 3 and 4 stars and eventually gave it 4, but I don’t think I would read it again.

The Sense of Style by Steve Pinker. Another one that took forever, but with non-fiction I expect that. I actually read this one for work because I was hoping it would help me with style in my translations – although this is more a guide for writers some of the concepts can be applied. It’s an interesting and engaging read. I didn’t enjoy every single part, but any non-fiction book that can actually more or less hold my interest right to the end (other than a biography) is great in my book! I want to go back and copy out some of his example sentences for future reference. Four stars.

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. I adored this. It’s so cute and heart-warming – I want Jonah to be my best friend and Biscuit to be my dog! Some people may find it a little too sweet and get annoyed by all the quirky characters, but personally I like quirky characters. Recommended to anybody who likes words and magic (and ice cream!). 5 stars.

The Last Academy by Anne Applegate. Trying not to give any spoilers… I have read a few reviews by people who said it was obvious what was happening/what the school is as soon as the man on the plane said his name. I don’t agree – it wasn’t obvious to me and I don’t think it would be to teenagers either (unless they are experts in Greek mythology). I did get an inkling of what was going on with Camden and her classmates, especially after a scene between her crush/boyfriend and his mother, but I never figured out Barnaby/Mr Cooper’s role. It was a quick read and passed the time well enough. Three stars.

The Center of Everything by Linda Urban. A lot of reviewers loved this book, but I honestly found it quite boring. I think I would have liked it at 7 or 8, but then all the maths and science would have gone over my head. The best friend is selfish and annoying, wanting Ruby to constantly be there for her, never listening to a word she says then getting mad that she didn’t tell her a secret (uhh, when should she have done that when you wouldn’t SHUT UP!) and being annoyed that she dared find a new friend. There is a kind of apology near the end but it was too little for me. There is a scene where Ruby is crying in the art room that was fantastic and the conversation with her dad towards the end was genuinely touching. If the rest of the book had been like that I would have loved it. As it is, those two things are what pull it up from two stars to three. Wouldn’t really recommend.

Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce. My grandparents bought me a million classics when I was a child but somehow I missed out on this one! How? Why? I looooved it! In some ways it reminded me of Charlotte Sometimes (an all-time favourite). It’s old-fashioned and sweet and… I don’t know. Just read it! Five stars.

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome. Technically, I haven’t finished this book yet since the copy I am reading (see link) is two books in one. I did finish the Two Men in a Boat part though, which is the one that’s on the BBC Big Read list, so I shall review that one here. I found this a lot more readable than I expected, although definitely not as hilarious as other reviews seem to suggest. Strangely, it read a bit like a blog from before there were blogs. Maybe I should say it’s like a diary from a holiday, but written by somebody who expects others to read it and keeps throwing in touristic references and recommendations for places to eat. Oh, and that somebody also has ADHD and keeps getting distracted and going off on random tangents. Slightly bizarre but surprisingly good. Four stars.

So, seven reviews (although only four full books read). Slightly better than May’s three!

Linking up with Jana and Steph, of course.

Show Us Your books will be back in July, when I will have lots of books to review thanks to Erin’s challenge and my new resolve to prioritise reading (I didn’t realise how much I had missed books until I forced myself to make time for them again).

50 questions you’ve never been asked

Posting twice within a matter of days? Oh my! The world must have gone mad! (Actually Jan’s still asleep and I’m taking a break from cross stitch ;-))

I found this on Kezzie‘s blog, and she borrowed it from Emmamereta who got it from someone else. And so the world of blogging goes. I’m not sure these are all questions I’ve never been asked – I think I’ve been asked about the countries I’ve visited and favourite childhood TV shows before – but there were enough interesting ones in the mix for me to want to give it a go.

What’s your favourite candle scent?
I like apple and cinnamon around Christmas and I like fresh linen scents, but not always. Some brands smell nothing like fresh linen

Which female celebrity do you wish was your sister?
Do authors count as celebrities? If so I would love Joanne Harris! Oh, and Mara Wilson (who played Matilda but is now all grown up and voices a character in Welcome to Night Vale)

Which male celebrity do you wish was your brother?
Eddie Izzard, even though he’s the same age as my mum so that would be weird! I think we would have fascinating conversations though.

Do you know a hoarder?
My dad keeps a looot of stuff but he’s not an actual hoarder (like surfaces piled so high you can’t enter the house and refusing to even throw away literal rubbish hoarder). I probably keep too many things that have sentimental value, although I’m pretty good at getting rid of clothes (and replacing them with way too many more…)

Can you do the splits?
Nope. I’m the least flexible person in the world. Can’t touch my toes either!

How old were you when you learnt to ride a bike?
6 I think? I know it was in Northern Ireland anyway. I remember my little blue bike 🙂

How many oceans have you swam in?
The North Sea definitely (is that an ocean?). And the Mediterranean in Spain. Ooh, and the Irish Sea in Wales.

How many countries have you visited?
Well, I have lived in England, Northern Ireland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, so there’s five to start with 😉 Plus: Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Liechtenstein, The Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the USA, Taiwan, New Zealand, Dubai. I think that’s everything. So 24?

Feldkirch
Let’s split this up with a picture… Feldkirch, Austria, where I lived for 10 months

Is anyone in your family in the army?Not any more. My dad was (as was my step-dad).

What would you name your daughter if you had one?
There are a lot of girl’s names I like. I think we’ve maybe narrowed it down to one we would call our daughter, but I’m not going to tell you here because if we do have a child I will not be using his or her real name on my blog for the entire world to see! I will tell you that I love the name Beatrix because that’s one we definitely won’t be using.

What would you name your son if you had one?
I find male names a lot harder, and we have the added difficulty that whatever name we use has to be pronounceable in German and English (which seems to be easier with female names!). I always loved the name Tristan, but I don’t think we’ll use that.

What’s the worst grade you got on a test?
I got all Ds for my A-levels. That’s pretty bad.

What was your favourite TV show as a kid?
Button Moon when I was really little. Later I loved The Raggy Dolls, Byker Grove, SuperTed, Dangermouse, Sabrina the Teenage Witch (although I guess I was a teenager when I watched that).

What did you dress up as on Halloween, when you were 8?
I don’t think I did? I only remember dressing up for Halloween once as a child, for a party in Northern Ireland and we moved back to England before I turned 8. I know I never went trick or treating.

Have you read any of the Harry Potter, Hunger Games or Twilight books?/em>
All the Harry Potter books (the actual series, not Fantastic Beasts or whatever other spin-offs are out there), none of the others. I’ve been advised not to bother with Twilight.

Would you rather have an American accent or English accent?
Definitely English! Sorry Americans, but I find a lot of your accents annoying

Did your mother go to university?
She did, in her 40s! To become a nurse (you go to university for that in the UK – I know in other countries it’s not a degree). So proud of her.

Are your grandparents still married?
Both my grandfathers are dead now, but they would have been I’m sure.

Have you ever taken Karate lessons?
No.

Do you know who Kermit the frog is?
Are there people that don’t?

What’s the first amusement park you went to?
Not sure, but I was fairly young when I went to Thorpe Park and Chessington so maybe one of those?

What language, besides your native language would you like to be fluent in?
Ukrainian! My granddad was from there and I would love to be able to speak his language. Other than that Spanish. And I would like to achieve native-speaker fluency in German but that won’t happen (my German is pretty fluent but not enough to be mistaken for a native speaker).

Do you spell the colour grey or gray?
We have to translate into both British and American English and I’m forever getting confused over which spelling to use in which language! But grey is the British spelling, so in everyday life I use that one.

Is your father bald?
No, far from it.

Do you know triplets?
Yes. My grandma used to child-mind them.

Do you prefer Titanic or The Notebook?
I don’t think I’ve seen The Notebook.

Have you ever had Indian food?
Yes!  LOVE it!

What’s the name of your favourite restaurant?
I don’t have one. I like to try different places.

Have you ever been to Nando’s?
Once, because I met a friend at The Gate in Newcastle and it was chucking it down so we didn’t want to leave the building! It was okay but not amazing enough for me to understand all the fuss.

Do you belong to any warehouse stores?
No.

What would your parents have named you if you were the opposite gender?
I have a vague memory of being told I would have been a Philip if I was a boy, but I may have imagined that. (Mam, am I right?)

If you have a nickname, what is it?
Bev. Fairly boring. Sometimes Bee.

Who’s your favourite person in the world?
Jan. Is that really soppy? Other than that my friend K and my godson.

Would you rather live in the countryside or city?
I’m not a fan of big cities, but I’m not sure I would like to live right out in the countryside – unless I learned to drive. But even then being forced to drive everywhere would be a pain. I like where we live now – it’s within walking distance of the city, but also within walking distance of a farm, the woods, etc. Best of both worlds.

Can you whistle?
No.

Do you sleep with a night light?
No.

Do you eat breakfast every morning?
Umm, no. (Sorry mam!)

Do you take any pills or medication daily?
Yes. No, I’m not going to elaborate.

What medical condition do you have?
None that I know of.

How many times have you been to the hospital?
I was taken to A&A for stitches when I fell down the loft ladder as a teen. Other than that never as a patient (except for being born in hospital).

Have you ever seen Finding Nemo?
Yes.

Where do you buy your jeans?
I don’t actually own jeans any more, but the last pair I had came from C&A.

What’s the last compliment you got?
Umm… about two weeks ago someone said they liked the dress I was wearing. Huh, I had to think about that one.

Do you usually remember your dreams in the morning?
I remember quite a few, especially if I wake up in the middle of the, I tend to have vivid dreams.

What flavour tea do you enjoy?
Tesco chocolate flavoured black tea. I also like Orange and ginger, spearmint and Alnatura’s Sunshine Tea, but technically those are all infusions 😉

How many pairs of shoes do you own?
Between 10 and 15, I think.

What religion will you raise your children to be?
None. They will be allowed to choose for themselves once they are old enough to make a decision. They will also be able to choose for themselves whether to formally enter any church and thus have to pay church tax if they end up living in Germany or Switzerland. I highly object to people having to pay church tax because their parents made the decision to have them christened as babies!

How old where you when you found out Santa wasn’t real?
7 or 8 I think?

Why do you have a blog?
My very first ever blog was on MSN spaces and I can’t remember why I originally started it, but I kept it up while I lived in Austria to update people on what I was doing over there. I started this blog because MSN Spaces (which by then had become Live Spaces) had closed down, I had hardly any friends and a lot of free time and I needed a place to get me thoughts out of my head – hence the tag line of my blog. Of course, I could have just written them in my diary, but I had always liked the interactive element of my old blog so I decided to send my thoughts out into the world, although my blog has always been primarily for myself. These days it also serves as a record of things I’ve done. I like to look back on places I’ve been and also remind myself of how far I’ve come over the past however many years (I don’t even what to think about the actual number… when did I get this old?)

If anyone plans to do this, please let me know. I would love to read your answers!

Recent doings #19

Once again I start with an apology to the blogosphere. Sorry I disappeared again! Work last week was just horrible. I kept having more and more things planned for me until I ended up working 10 hours on Thursday because there was no other way to get everything finished in time. And once I was done I still had to pack because I was spending Friday night at a hotel in Germany. Friday/Saturday I was at a course on legal translation for work, which was actually more interesting than it sounds. Anyway, despite my recent crapness I have not forgotten that today is link-up day with Kristin and Gretch. So here’s what I got up to in June when I wasn’t drowning in work…

whats-new

Eating. It’s been too hot for proper food, so we’ve basically been living on salad. That makes me sound way healthier than I actually am, so I should clarify that one of those salads consisted of new potatoes, spring onions, chicken, Greek yoghurt and seasoning. What? It’s a potato salad! I also have to confess that my diet has involved rather a lot of ice cream in June…

Watching. I started watching that new Channel 4 drama Ackley Bridge. I couldn’t watch yesterday’s though because Jan was home and he doesn’t watch stuff like that (I once watched an episode of Casualty while he was there and he asked me why I was watching a soap).

Reading. I actually managed to finish Sophie’s World. Woo! I also finished The Sense of Style, read four other books and started Three Men in a Boat/Three Men on the Bummel (and finished the Three Men in a Boat part, which is the only part that’s on the Big Read list so yay!). Much better than May’s tally! With Erin‘s challenge now on, I am hoping July will be an excellent reading month.

Listening to. Welcome to Night Vale. Yay! It’s been forever since I said that. We hired a car for our trip to Champagne and car journeys mean time for Night Vale.

Seeing/hearing. The Swiss Youth Choir performing at a church in Basel. Jan is in a choir with some people who are also in that choir so he wanted to go along.

Travelling. To the Champagne region, where I drank champagne (of course) and crossed another item off my 35 before 35 list.

Growing. Chilli plants. Our friend gave them to us when they were just little and they’ve grown and grown,  flowered and are now starting to produce  little chillies. Yum! Also parsley and thyme outside, although the thyme isn’t doing so well.

chillies
Hi little chillies!

Buying. Books, stickers, writing paper. Oh, and since I was in Germany on Friday, I popped to Primark for some tights to replace all the ones I’ve ruined and came out with a cardigan. It had bees on it so I couldn’t possibly not buy it! (Plus it was reduced to €5).

Swimming. In the Rhine, the week before last when it had been really hot for ages. It then rained and cooled down a few days later plus work went crazy so I haven’t been back in yet.

Cross stitching. A new baby card for a friend and lots more cards for Post Pals.

dragon card

Wishing. Time would slow down. It’s my birthday next month and the month after is the official start of autumn. Where is this year going?!

I can’t think of anything else I’ve been up to… as previously mentioned, the main thing I’ve been doing recently is working (are you sick of hearing about that yet?). So I shall leave this here.

Check out what’s new with everyone else here and let me know what you did in June in the comments.

A photo an hour: 17 June 2017

I know what you’re thinking… wasn’t it only just photo an hour day? (That’s what I was thinking when I saw Jane’s reminder anyway). Actually, it’s been almost a month since the last photo an hour link up! To be precise, May’s photo an hour was precisely a month ago tomorrow. 2017 is definitely going too fast!

Anyway, for those of you who didn’t follow along on Twitter, here’s what I got up to on Saturday.

10 a.m. Obviously I started my day with a cuppa. I could just reuse the photos from previous months for this! (But I didn’t. Last month’s was different – see.)

11 a.m. Time for a shower. In an effort to make things different, I took a photo of the shower curtain this time.

12 noon. Off to the post box with this pile of happy mail.

1 p.m. Finishing off a birthday card to be sent to a Post Pals sibling.

2 p.m. Finally quiet time is over and I’m allowed to take away the recycling! (I feel like I should point out that this wasn’t all drunk at once!)

3 p.m. Back from recycling and the supermarket. Time for a tea on the balcony.

4 p.m. Housework – boring but necessary. Emptying the dishwasher.

5 p.m. Once you start it’s never ending! After sorting the dishes I hoovered and now I’m sorting clean laundry.

6 p.m. Off into town.

7 p.m. A choir Jan sings with was having a CD launch party and I was on my way there. Crossing the Rhine.

8 p.m. Beer in a fountain. How else are you supposed to keep it cool?

9 p.m. Drinking beer! They’re not both mine…

10 p.m. Still at the launch party. Candles on a table.

11 p.m. Waiting for pizza and it was too dark to photograph anything but this lantern!

Midnight. Waiting for a tram home. The building is part of the art museum.

1 a.m. Finally bedtime! Eeyore says goodnight 🙂

And that was that. A long day! How was your Saturday?

Linking up with Jane and Louisa, as always.

Friday letters

How is it Friday again people? This week has gone way too fast, again. I had another public holiday yesterday (the last one until October!) and I was hoping to get lots done, but I didn’t even manage half of it. *Sigh* Anyway, on with the letters.

Letters

Dear kettle. I’m sorry I have to boil you so many times before I actually get round to making a cup of tea. You can blame your being overworked on all my work, okay?

Dear parsley. It was very exciting to put some of you in my salad last night having grown you from a seed!

Dear WordPress. What happened to the media space upgrade option? Apparently the only way I can get more space for photos now is by purchasing a domain. I don’t want a domain, just more space!

Dear weather. I’m glad you’ve cooled down a little bit – over 30°C is just too much for me!

Right, that’s all for today. Lunch break over… back to work! Have a lovely weekend, everyone.