One lovely blog award

I’m so sorry my blog seems to be a giant tag-fest recently, but people keep nominating me for things and, honestly, I’ve been feeling uninspired so it’s nice to have ready-made posts. Today’s is the “One lovely blog award” and I was nominated by Chomeuse with a Chou. She’s a fellow Brit abroad (in her case France) and she has such a wonderful writing style. Please go and check out her blog. I was also nominated by Irish Procrastinator. She is Irish (no, really?), very funny and an excellent poet. Again, you really must check out her blog. Thank you both so much for the nomination – I am genuinely touched that somebody considers me “lovely”!

lovely blog

There are rules, of course.

  • Thank the person who nominated you for the award;
  • Share seven things about yourself;
  • Nominate 7 other bloggers and inform them.

I have done similar posts before and I don’t think I will be able to dredge up seven entirely new facts, so apologies to long-term readers who’ve probably seen some of these before.

  1. This one is in my About Me section, but I’m using it here anyway. I have three siblings – a sister and two half brothers. My brothers are not related to each other. At my sister’s hen do (which I couldn’t attend), people were asked to take a quiz about her, and one of the questions was how many siblings does she have. Not a single person got it right – including my youngest brother’s mum! Oh, and I’m the eldest, by the way. My sister is actually the middle child twice.
  2. The first “adult” book I was ever allowed to read was The Clocks by Agatha Christie, when I was around 10. I can remember reading it in bed one morning before anyone else was awake and going downstairs to get the big dictionary so I could look up the word “illegitimate”.
  3. In my entire life, the place I lived the longest in one stretch was Karlsruhe, Germany – from September 2006 until I moved to Switzerland at the end of April 2015.
  4. Following on from the above… I always find the question “where are you from” really hard to answer. I lived in the place I was born twice, but even while I lived there it never really felt like “home”. It was just where army families get put when the army has nowhere else for them to go. Northumberland feels like home more than anywhere else, and that’s usually what I tell people, but if I have to specify a town it gets awkward again. I moved in with my dad aged 13 (he was out of the army by that time) and went to high school in the town he still lives in, but I hated it there and couldn’t wait to get away, so I certainly don’t consider that home! My parents are both from Morpeth, where my remaining grandparents still live, and that’s been the most constant place in my life. We went there for at least one holiday every year. It’s probably the place I am most likely to think of as “home”, but I’ve never actually lived there in my life.
  5. I’m obsessed with names… how people choose names for their children, how naming trends have changed through the years, which names are popular in which parts of the world. Jan gets so sick of me talking about people and their names!
  6. I lived in Austria for 10 months and have now been in Switzerland for close to three years but I have never tried skiing. Every year we say we will, then every year we don’t.
  7. When I was about 7 or 8, I wanted my name to be Abigail. I have no idea where I even got the name from – as far as I’m aware I had never met an Abigail at that stage in my life. To be honest, I would probably have chosen any name of my own at that point though. Beverly Hills 90210 came out the year I turned 7 and I got so sick of people at school chanting “90210” at me. Or alternatively saying “hey Beverley, are you a cop?”. Obviously they thought they were being sooo creative. *eyeroll*. So it’s kind of ironic that these days when German speakers don’t understand my name the first time I will actually say “Beverley as in Beverly Hills”.

Hmm, some of those were kind of long. Hopefully not too boring though?

I’m not actually going to tag anyone this time because I’ve been throwing tags around like confetti recently and I think I’ve already tagged everyone who might accept at least once. Sorry about that. I promise my next post will not be a tag or award!

Advertisements

My Life in Books

I saw this over at Land of Candy Canes and couldn’t resist stealing it. So today I am answering a few questions related to books. I’m not going to tag anybody specific, but if anybody would like to join in please do – I would leave to read your answers!

Lovely, lovely books!
Lovely, lovely books!

1. What is the first book you remember reading?

I have a very vague memory of some book with Spot the Dog with flaps to lift, but I’m not sure whether I could actually read at that stage or was just turning pages. The first book I really, truly remember reading all the words in is The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. I wish I knew what had happened to that book… I loved it!

2. What books make up your childhood?

Basically any book by Enid Blyton, as well as all Roald Dahl books. I remember reading the Narnia series over and over as well (I was convinced Narnia was real and I just needed to find a way to get there). I also loved the Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Clearly – I first started reading those because the author had the same name as me, then I got hooked. Later I was obsessed with The Babysitter’s Club  books and at around the age of 9 or 10 I got started on Point Horror (which is probably what led to my love of Stephen King and James Herbert!). Then there were all the individual books: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (aka the first book that ever made me cry), When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson (I loved this one so much I bought a new copy a few years ago so I could read it again), A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond, I Am David by Ann Holm, just to name a few. But even back then you could have placed any book in my hands and I would have devoured it.

3. What’s the first series you devoured?

I’m going to guess the Secret Seven books by Enid Blyton. When we lived in Northern Ireland, I tried to set up my own Secret Seven club! I would have been about six years old then. I was probably reading other Enid Blyton series, including The Famous Five and Mallory Towers, at the same time though, so it’s hard to say which one I got into first.

4. What books have you or could you read over and over again?

If I like a book, I will almost always read it more than once. I have to re-read books because I keep running out and I have neither the space nor the money to be constantly buying new ones! But here are some that I’ve read more times than I can count: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graeme (when I was younger – it’s still in England so it’s been a while since I’ve read it), Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer (it went missing during one of our moves though. I really need to buy that one again because it’s still along my favourite books ever), several of Terry Pratchett’s books including Witches Abroad and Mort, Chocolat by Joanne Harris, The Orchard on Fire by Shena Mackay and Brother in the Land by Robert Swindells, despite the fact that it makes me cry every time!

5. What books take you back to a certain time in your life and why?

All Agatha Christie books remind me of being ten years old. I’d run out of my own books and was bored, so my mum gave me the few Agatha Christie books she had, figuring they were tame enough for me to read. I was so proud of being allowed to read adult books!

6. What book changed your life, or could at least change someone elses?

Not a single book, but a series. I’ve been obsessed with Austria ever since I discovered the Chalet School books by Elinor M. Brent Dyer when I was about ten. They’re about 90% of the reason I lived in Austria for a year after graduation. I’m not exactly sure whether that’s what was meant with the question, but I certainly don’t think I would have lived in Austria if I hadn’t read these books.

7. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, which would it be?

No, no, no, no, no! I refuse to even contemplate this. One book! That’s like a nightmare scenario to me. *Shudders*

Those of you who are interested can read Katrin’s answers here. And if you decide to join in, please do let me know!

The big reveal: Part 1

I’m taking a leaf out of Aussa and Deanna‘s books and spreading the revealing of my truths and lie across two posts. Sorry to torture you, but you only have yourselves to blame 😉 You wanted to hear the stories behind the truths, and if I try to explain all five in one post we’ll be here all year. So you can have two truths today then in my next I shall reveal the remaining truths… and the lie. Okay?

Before I start with the revelations, let’s take a quick look at your guesses…

Numbers 1, 2 and 4 all had one guess each.
One person couldn’t decide whether to go for number 5 or number 6
And a whopping six of you guessed that number 6 – the one night stand – was the  lie!

I also discussed this post with four of my friends (two of whom actually read it on the blog) the other night and got them to guess, too. Each of the four gave a different answer, with votes for numbers 1, 2, 4 and 6…

And now for my first two truths…

True
Photo credit: Pete Lewis

Number 2… When I was 17, I got incredibly drunk at my mate’s birthday party and threw up all over the floor (and myself)  in the toilets is TRUE!

Yes… I made it all the way into the ladies, then sat down in front of a cubicle and threw up. I was so, so close to making it to the toilet!
The worst part of this story is that my friend, who was 20, had managed to smuggle in a bottle of vodka so we’d been ordering cokes for most of the night. As far as the bar staff were concerned, I had drank a grand total of two triple vodka and cokes. They must have thought I was a total light weight! And, of course, nobody thought to ask me for ID until after I was sick… the story ended with me being made to leave through the fire exit and the birthday boy, who actually worked at the pub, nearly losing his job for not informing his colleagues that I was underage (the drinking age in the UK is 18). The vodka-providing friend then phoned my dad to come and pick me up… and he proceeded to laugh at the state of me all the way home.

Number 5… One of my earliest memories involves checking under a car for bombs is TRUE!

As Lady of the Cakes correctly pointed out, I am an army brat and the IRA was quite active in the 80s. This incident actually happened while we were living in Northern Ireland. I’m not sure whether it was the first time we checked under the car for bombs – the fact that I remember this specific time suggests it may have been – but I know for a fact that it wasn’t the last. On the day in question, the car was parked outside a Toys R Us (I think?) in Belfast and we needed to check for bombs before we could drive back to camp. I remember my stepdad lying on the floor checking to see whether anything was under the car, while my mum and I walked around the outside at a slightly safer distance looking for any unusual objects stuck to the car. Presumably my sister was there, too, but I don’t remember what she was doing. My brother wasn’t even born yet so I can’t have been any older than six… and if it was, in fact, the first such incident it was probably shortly after we moved to Northern Ireland, which would mean I was five years old.

So there you have it, two truths. If anyone who hasn’t had a guess yet would still like to join in you still have four  statements to choose from:

1. While at university, I got paid to kiss one of my friends.
3. I could read before I started school
4. I was conceived on my mum’s 19th birthday
6. During my first year at university, I had a one night stand with my flatmate’s ex-boyfriend.

Which one is the lie?

End of my childhood

As a child growing up in the 80s, there were a few TV programmes I watched religiously. One of them was Jim’ll Fix It. I never actually sent a letter in (I have a sneaking suspicion I may not have been allowed), but I would spend hours dreaming up things Jim could fix for me. I would have loved a Jim’ll Fix It medal – even more than a Blue Peter badge, and that’s saying something considering the things those badges could get you in to! I always said when Mr. Fixit died my childhood would officially be over. And now it has happened – Sir Jimmy Savile has passed away, 2 days short of his 85th birthday. Despite the fact that I never met the man, I am genuinely sad. A legend of my childhood has gone; an era has come to an end. RIP Sir Jimmy Savile, first and last presenter of Top of the Pops and  fixer of children’s wishes. You shall be missed!

I promise to tell the truth…

So I’ve been given an award by the lovely Welsh Girl whose blog you can get to by clicking the link. It’s a very cool award. Just look at it:
honest_award_black

Cool no?

However, this is not an award that’s made purely for the purpose of decorating your blog. Oh no. It comes with strings attached. You see, as part of the deal I’m supposed to tell you 10 honest things about myself, then pass it on to other unsuspecting bloggers whose days I want to ruin.
I’m a little worried about this whole “honesty” thing though. Something tells me what the award is actually asking for is a bunch of embarrassing secrets that I never had any intention of sharing with the world.

Oh well, it’s not like I have that much to hide.
Here goes…

  1. When I was younger I desperately wanted a twin sister. So desperately in fact that a friend and I went around telling everyone at school we were twins but had been adopted by different families at birth. Nobody believed us of course. My friend is two days older than me and at the time our mothers were best friends, so for our 6th birthday the two of them arranged for us to have a joint birthday party at the Family’s Bar (it’s an army thing). We even had a birthday cake with both of our names on it. After that everyone believed us.
  2. I once snogged a girl for a pound and a bottle of Reef. I was at uni at the time. When you’re a student you don’t turn down free alcohol! (I did know the girl in question by the way – she was my housemate at the time). A few years later I snogged one of my best (female) friends because she thought it would be a good way to impress a guy she fancied. It worked – he went home with her that night.
  3. When I was 17 I dumped a boy by posting a letter through his door. I know, awful right? I was too much of a wimp to do it in person. I don’t feel too guilty about it though – a few months later he got with a friend of mine. They’re now living together and are apparantly getting married in 2010.
  4. I had my first real kiss when I was 6 years old, behind the garages on our estate in Northern Ireland. I no longer remember what the boy’s name was but I do know he was 9. After that I wasn’t kissed again until I was 16.
  5. When I was about 12 I sat on some broken glass while at the park with my sister and my friend. My friend had to pull the aforementioned piece of glass out of my bum. My mum was out at the time and we weren’t supposed to leave the house so I hid my blood-covered knickers in a bush so she wouldn’t find out. (I can’t believe I just admitted that. On the internet! Eeek!)
  6. I have a scar on my chin from falling down the loft ladder when I was 14. I bled everywhere and had to be taken to hospital to have it stitched up (actually I only got steri strips). My friend insisted on coming to hospital with me and was given a card with the symptoms of concussion on it just in case.
  7. I cry really easily. If I know a book is going to be sad I won’t read it on the tram in case it makes me cry in front of everybody. I also cry when I have arguments with Jan, even when it was me who started it.
  8. I have incredibly long toes. The three in the middle actually remind me of fingers. I find this quite disturbing.
  9. I have completely forgotten all my times tables. I have to use a calculator or my fingers to work them out. My year 6 teacher would be disgusted.
  10. Part way through year 3, when I was 7 years old, my family was posted from Northern Ireland back to England. Shortly after starting at my new school I wet myself in the playground at lunch time because I was too scared to ask the prefects on duty (big scary year sixes!) to go to the toilet. Later, when we were back in class, the teacher asked me if I had wet myself and I completely denied it.

OK, that’s your lot. Phew, that was hard! Now it’s time to pass it on…
Soo… Sleepyjane, Hails and Lauren, over to you…

Happy Birthday Paddington!

Google UK just told me Paddington, the marmelade loving bear featured in the books by Michael Bond, is 50, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to say Happy Birthday to one of my favourite bears.

I used to have a Paddington Bear when I was little. He was about 15 centimetres high with a red hat and a blue duffle coat that could be fastened with real wooden toggles. He was brilliant. I knitted him a scarf once. I was about 6 or 7 and someone had bought me a kids knitting set for Christmas (with red plastic needles). It was probably my Grandma – she was always into knitting. I got some bright pink wool to go with it so I decided I was going to knit a scarf. I had only knitted a tiny, miniscule scarf (maybe 10 centimetres long) when i got bored of it, so I announced that it was going to be a scarf for Paddington, as if that had been my intention all along. And so it became Paddington’s scarf. Not too long after that both Paddington and scarf went missing – I suspect it happened during our move from Northern Ireland back to England. Lots of stuff went missing during our various moves. I was quite upset about losing Paddington. After all, I had loved him enough to knit him his very own scarf.

Now I have a new Paddington. I spotted him at Heathrow airport the week before last and told Jan, who doesn’t know the Paddington bear books, the story of how I knitted my Paddington a scarf and lost him. I must have sounded pretty nostalgic because Jan promptly counted out the last of his English money to go towards buying me a new Paddington. Naturally I chose one with a red hat and blue duffle coat – some had them the other way round but in my memory Paddington’s coat was blue! My new bear is holding a briefcase and has a label round his neck – “Please look after this bear”. His toggles aren’t real, but that’s ok. I still love him, and I love my boyfriend for spontaneously deciding to buy him for me.

Happy Birthday Paddington Bear! May you continue to eat marmelade sandwiches for another 50 years.