Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Book 1 & Titles


Versions one and two of my current project had a title. It was one of those rare moments (for me) where the book had a title before I'd even put pen to paper - or fingers to keyboard.

However, as I started version three, it became clear the title no longer suited the book I was writing so I was back to the same old problem I usually have; what the hell do I call the thing?

Why are titles so difficult? Why can I write an 80-100, 000 word novel but those few words that will (hopefully) be displayed on the front cover are beyond me?

Now, I know titles can change. It would more than likely be in my best interests if somebody did change mine because I clearly suck at it but that initial title has to grab the attention of an agent. It has to stand out on the slush pile but it also has to be suitable for the book.

Arrrrgggghhhhhhh!!!!!

My book had no title for a while but then I was 'forced' to come up with a title when I entered it into in this competition. It isn't a brilliant title but I don't think it is the worst I have ever conjured up. It does the job so for now it will be a working title.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Film Review - Just Go With It



I've wanted to watch this film since I saw the trailer and finally got round to it a couple of weeks ago. I thought it was going to be your typical chick flick but I don't think it is. It is so funny, I think even the manliest of men would enjoy it.

Danny, a plastic surgeon, convinces his assistant Katherine to pretend to be his soon-to-be-ex-wife after he finds himself tangled in a lie he told his new girlfriend. The three of them, along with Katherine's two children and Danny's cousin, end up going on a trip to Hawaii together.

It's obvious from the trailer how it is going to end but it doesn't stop you enjoying the journey to get there. I found it hilarious with so many laugh-out-loud moments, my favourite of which is a scene with a sheep. Most films these days get a single viewing from me before they're forgotten about but I think this one will stick around. One day in the future it might even become a favourite.

Verdict: Just Watch It

***Film Fact***
Danny's fiancée at the beginning of the film is Adam Sandler's wiife in real life, Jackie Sandler.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Acknowledgements



Crazy as it sounds, my favourite part of a book is the acknowledgements. Not only do you get the tiniest of insights into the writer, you also see that a real person has wrote the book. A person who, like me, has sat at a computer, has had people swirling around their mind in a non-mental type of way and has sent off their work. For them, it has been sucessful and I hope it will be for me one day.

The acknowledgements are an inspiration to me. I read them, give a little sigh and think 'one day'. One day I might have the chance to thank people for helping me on the road to publication. I'm always disappointed when there isn't an acknowledgement and for some reason, I prefer them to be at the beginning of the book rather than the end (shrugs).

So I would like to thank the writers for thanking those who have helped them. Keep thanking!

Competition

Chicklitreviews.com has a competition to win a copy of The Empty Nesters by Nina Bell.



The competition is open to UK residents and all you have to is fill in the form.

Good luck

Sunday, 28 August 2011

The Radleys by Matt Haig



Life with the Radleys: Radio 4, dinner parties with the Bishopthorpe neighbours and self-denial.

Teenagers Rowan and Clara have no idea they are vampires until the night of a party when Clara is attacked and her instincts kick in. Their parents made the decision to abstain from drinking blood in order to bring up their children as 'normal' human beings in a quiet village but their carefully planned life is about to crumble when the truth comes out.

I've only read the Twilight series and Ann Rice's Interview With The Vampire on the subject so it isn't my usual read but I really enjoyed it. Although there is obviously blood in it, it isn't too gory for a wuss like me and I connected with the characters of Helen, Peter, Rowan and Clara and wanted it all to work out for them.

I found the book to be a good, light read (in that it wasn't bogged down with too many unnecessary details and descriptions). There was subtle and tongue in cheek humour as well as laugh out loud moments, my favourite of which was describing sex as 'a hug in motion'.

The short sections of the book were a blessing for me. As a mum, it helps to be able to pick up a book and read it in small chunks before I have to dash off to stop the girls from battering each other or to turn the potatoes down before they boil dry so The Radleys was ideal.

I was quite disappointed when it came to an end this afternoon, which is always a good sign.

Verdict: Didn't think it would my cup of tea but I was wrong. Great read

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Summer Holidays - 80s and 90s Style

The holidays are almost up (boo). But I've been thinking about the difference in the summer holidays my daughter has and the ones I had as a child.

I try and plan activities to stop the kids getting bored but my mum never did that. She didn't have to because I don't ever remember being bored during the holidays. I'm sure I was at some point and I'm looking back with rose-tinted sunglasses but my memories involved shovelling down my breakfast so I could go out and play, only returning to eat at lunch and tea time before rushing out again, afraid of missing out on any fun being had in my absence. We only sloped back home when the street lights started to flicker.

This picture pretty much sums up my summers:


Marbles. I loved them. All the kids on the street loved them. At the age of 7, I broke my ankle but did it stop the marble fun? Nope. I left my crutches at the front door and hobbled out to the greatest marble hole on the street (which was outside my house and created by the combination of my brother and a pick axe).

It's no wonder that the foot of my cast started to crumble and I had to get it reinforced at the hospital.

Another year, a lad around the same age came to stay with his grandfather who lived on my street, for the summer . He was from Bangladesh and he played marbles differently. Instead of trying to roll your marble in a hole, they drew a chalk circle and placed all the marbles inside and the aim was to roll another marble towards them and knock them out of the circle. So that summer we played two different kinds of marbles.

Another time, me and my brother (the same one who had created the marble hole) didn't have any marbles and didn't have any money to buy any so we improvised. By covering the holes of some black beads with our thumb and forefinger, we could pretend they were 'a new kind of marble'. It worked long enough for us to win a few actual marbles to play with but the other kids weren't impressed we'd tricked them.

It wasn't just about marbles though. We played rounders (and had many disagreements about who should retrieve the ball when it flew into the grumpy old lady's front garden), M.I.L.K, Red Letter, Hide and Seek and Curby. Ah, the simple joy of lobbing a ball across the road to try to make it bounce back off the opposite curb.

Kids don't seem to play these games anymore. It's all about computers, bashing away at a DS or, if they do happen to venture outside into the fresh air, making a nuisance of themselves. It's a shame because looking back, the summer holidays were brilliant and we were never bored. I'm not sure the children of today can say the same thing.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Week 5 of the Summer Holidays

Mixed bag of weather this week so we did both indoor and outdoor activities this week.

Last week, we made toppers for cakes so this week we put them to use. We melted chocolate, poured it onto cakes and added pink glitter sprinkles before adding the toppers.

We then pulled out the dressing up boxes and had a Princess Tea Party with the cakes, biscuits, fruit salad and juice.
  



We made good use of the park on one of the good weather days and had a walk down to the library on another. The Jellyfish completed the Summer Reading Challenge. There was also a clown show on at the library. It was horrendous.

The show was supposed to start at 2pm but the clown decided to set up at 2 and it took him nearly an hour! The kids were bored. I was bored. The 'show' lasted until 4 and was dire. I lost the will around ten minutes in.

On another sunny day, we did painting in the garden. The Jellyfish likes watching Backyard Science so we got the idea from there: mix cornflour with water so it looks like milk, then add food colouring. You can then paint on the ground because it washes away with water (or rain in our case).




We also made good use of the bad weather by staying in and watching episodes of The Secret World of Alex Mack.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Top 10 Teen Films

There's been a bit of a teen theme this week so I have decided to carry it on with my Top Ten Teen Films:

10 Things I Hate About You

American Pie




The Breakfast Club


Clueless


Cruel Intentions



Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead


Road Trip


She's The Man



St Elmo's Fire



Teen Wolf

 
 
 


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Book 1...

... is still on hold. It's been eight days (is that all? Feels like eighty at least) and in that time I've only done a tiny bit of planning for the next project and one measly short story. I'm sure it would have been more if I hadn't joined Twitter...

On a more positive note, I can now boast more than 5% on my sky plus box.

Teen & Pre-Teen Books

I have just had a look at Booktrust's Best Books Guide for 2011 and the teen and pre-teen books and my first thought was children's books have changed since my day. But have they?

The Pre-teen books these days cover some serious issues, such as cancer, religious sects and the death of a parent. Only recently, The Jellyfish has read Jacqueline Wilson's The Longest Whale Song, which is about a girl whose mother is in a coma (I've been there, although I was an adult at that time and it is still upsetting to think back at that time, even though my mum did come round).

When I was a pre-teen, I was reading The Babysitter's Club and Sweet Valley Twins. But then I remember Caroline B Cooney's The Face on the Milk Carton which told the story of a girl who had been kidnapped as a small child and had grown up with the kidnapper's family until she starts to remember her past. I was hooked on this book and I think it was my first experience of being unable to put a book down. I'd even set my alarm early so I could read before school!




The teen books contain more harrowing situations; sleeping rough because your father has died, more cancer and honor killings.

Looking back on my teen years, I see Sweet Valley High and Point Romance but if I think hard enough there was more than the fluffy teenage stuff. What about Dear Nobody about a teenage girl who falls pregnant and has to face termintation and adoption?




Maybe the books aren't so different now then they were back then...

Monday, 22 August 2011

Teen TV

The Jellyfish watches a load of pap; Foreign Exchange, Majority Rules, iCarly etc so I decided to show her what I used to watch (and could get my hands on).

At the weekend we started watching The Secret World of Alex Mack. The Jellyfish loves it and actually, it isn't so different to the 'pap' she watches. And the special effects are awful. The credits really took me back to my youth and got me thinking about the tv shows I used to watch as a teenager, usually the ones that were shown on Channel 4 on weekday mornings of the holidays.



There was Alex Mack, as already mentioned, which told the story of (guess who) Alex Mack. One day she is walking home from school when a truck spills a chemical on her and leaves her with special powers. Alex can now zap stuff with electricity, move things with her eyes (a la Matilda) and morph into water. Cool, you may think, but the people who spilled the chemical want to find her and turn her into a lab rat.


And what about Saved by the Bell with Zack and the gang causing mischief? There was not only the tv series but the film Saved by the Bell: Hawaiin Style and then the gang grew up and gave us Saved by the Bell The College Years, which I am sad to say, was pure pap.


Similar to Saved by the Bell was California Dreams, which told the story of another gang of high school kids. This time the gang formed a band. And got into mischief.




Ahh, Sister Sister. I would love to introduce this to The Jellyfish.

Identical twins Tia and Tamera were adopted at birth by two different parents and meet by chance at the mall. The two families merge and we are treated to all sorts of escapades.



Another one I will be subjecting The Jellyfish to is Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I think she'll love it though because, let's face it, what's not to love? She's a teenager and she's a witch. Plus, there is a talking cat. It doesn't get any better.


What tv shows did you watch as a teen?

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Woman He Loved Before by Dorothy Koomson



First of all, please excuse the gushing that is about to commence.

Second of all, wow. And I really mean it.

The Woman He Loved Before tells the story of Libby and Jack and Jack's first wife, Eve. Libby fears Jack can never love her the way he loved his late wife and will never be able to let Eve go and when Libby discovers more and more about Eve, she begins to understand why.

The book was given a great review on Novelicious so I was looking forward to reading it. As soon as I began, I could see why it had been so highly praised.

Dorothy Koomson is a beautiful writer who manages to describe the simplest things so perfectly. You are drawn into the story straight away and there is intrigue throughout, compelling you to keep reading even though it is one am and you know your two year old will come bounding into your bedroom at stupid o clock in the morning.

Both Libby's and Eve's stories are touching - heartbreaking at times - and through the writing, you feel for them and join them on a rollercoaster of emotions.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough and urge anyone who hasn't read it yet to do so. This was the first Dorothy Koomson book I have read but I will be searching out her previous ones.

Verdict: Best book I have read in a very long time

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Top Ten Friends

Or Best of Friends, if you prefer.

While waffling about my box sets the other day, I started thinking what my favourite episodes of Friends are. So here goes:

  • The One With All The Jealousy
    Although I enjoy the rest of the episode (love bugs, singing quartets and Jurrassic Parker), I could watch Joey's attempt to teach the other auditionees the dance routine over and over again
  • The One With The Embryos
    While Phoebe is having embryos implanted, the others are taking part in a game to win the girls' apartment. My favourite part is when Chandler comes riding in on Pat the Dog
  • The One With The Nap Partners
    I love how uncomfortable Ross and Joey are after they fell asleep together but both want to have 'the best nap ever' again. The look when they wake up and see the others watching them is hilarious
  • The One With All The Cheesecakes
    I love this episode and not just because it involves the best dessert in the world. My favourite part is when Rachel drops hers and Chandler's glee as he comes back out of the apartment to gloat, followed very closely by Joey removing a fork from his jacket pocket to eat it off the floor
  • The One With Joey's Award
    Joey's reaction when he doesn't win the award is brilliant. You know it's how everybody at these kind of awards always feels but never show
  • The One With The Videotape
    Tied with the cheescakes, this is my favourite episode. I love Monica squeezing Rachel's hand so it hurts and Rachel fast forwarding and the Western Europe story being passed along is great
  • The One With The Rumour
    Another great Thanksgiving episode. Phoebe fancies Will even though he despises Rachel and even wants to join the 'I hate Rachel Club', which Will and Ross co-created at high school
  • The One Where Rachel Is Late
    I love how grumpy Rachel is when she overdue and how everyone tries to be careful around her or avoid her. Favourite part is when she yells 'get out' at the baby so everyone does, leaving her sitting alone in Central Perk
  • The One Where Monica Sings
    Nothing to do with Paul Rudd being in this episode of course...

    Monica sings karaoke and the crowd love her - due to her top being see-through. Favourite part is the very end when Chandler sings
  • The One Where The Stripper Cries
    Danny de Vito is ace in this episode, playing an aging stripper who turns up exhausted from climbing all the stairs.
 
 

Friday, 19 August 2011

Week 4 of the Summer Holidays

I can't believe how quickly these last few weeks have gone. The hoildays will be over soon and it'll all be down hill from there; dark nights, cold weather, snow. Best make the most of the holidays while we have them.

We've had a mixed bag of weather this week so we have been able to get out and about a bit more than last week. Some of the things we have done are:

  • A walk to the park to run around (the kids, not me. I make it a rule to never run) and roll down the hill (again, not me)
  • A trip to Gulliver's World
  • Spent the afternoon at my sister's house. Kids played with their cousins while I had a quiet cup of tea
  • Made toppers for cakes which we are going to use tomorrow
Will have to go shopping next week to finish off school uniform etc. Luckily I only need to get shoes and PE kit now.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Celebrity Big Brother

First Impressions:

Not good.

Housemates:

  1. Kerry Katona. I'm fighting the urge not to switch over
  2. Tara Reid - meh
  3. Gypsy Guy - also meh
  4. Amy Childs - Give the girl a bloody dictionary so she can learn a few more words. 'You have to wait and see' (I don't want to) and 'You never know' (I don't want to) - is that all she can say?
  5. Mr Paparazzi - who?
  6. Sally who? The wife of a parliament dude I've never heard of = celebrity? Really?
  7. A guy who was in Coronation Street for five minutes. Waaaaay famous
  8. Another woman who is famous through her (ex) husband. Oh no, wait, she was in Baywatch a million years ago
  9. Who? A model, you say? Ok. No further comment. Far too meh for words
  10. Jedward - I don't have the energy for these guys
Did they forget this was Celebrity Big Brother?

Who Do You Think You Are Part 2

It was J K Rowlings turn to trace her family roots last night and I couldn't help thinking how lucky these celebrities are to have professional help in tracking down their ancestors. It's a shame you have to be a celebrity to take part as I am sure there are lots of equally interesting stories out there from 'normal' folk.

I haven't found any skeletons in the closet so far (although there have been a couple of marriages very close to births). I did, however, find something very interesting (for me, at least).

While researching my grandfather's side of the family, I found another branch from the same tree and got in touch with its owner, who was the daughter of my mum's cousin. The cousins hadn't seen each other in over fifty years, since my mum was a toddler.

We arranged to meet up and they brought the birth, marriage and death certificates they had collected while researching their tree, which is when we found out that me and mum had once lived in the same house as my great grandfather.

Now, this happens all the time when houses are passed down through families but when we had lived in the house we were renting it.

We had always known my grandad was born in the house next door to us but what we didn't know was that his father had lived in our house. He married his widowed neighbour and moved into her house, where my grandad was born.

It was a huge coincidence that we ended up living at the same address and a great story to pass on.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Book 1 - First Draft Is Complete!

Word count: 78, 000

Completed the first draft last night. In time for Big Brother too (coincidence?)

It isn't quite the 80, 000 words I was aiming for but there is so much to do when I edit it that I am not worried about the wordcount.

It's a strange feeling having the whole story down, however rough it is at the moment. When I went to bed last night, I put my head down on the pillow and my mind automatically went to Kate and what she would be up to next, as I always do. Except she isn't under my control anymore. She has her own life to lead that has nothing to do with me.

It will feel even stranger when I don't open my word document tonight. Whatever will I do with my time? The plan is to leave the book for a month and then go back and edit it (aka rip it to pieces). I'm going to use this opportunity to write some short stories as I want to stay in the habit of writing but don't want to start anything major, scrapbook the millions of photos waiting to be scrapbooked, clear my Sky Plus box and read through the pile of books that seems to have crept up on me.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Gulliver's World




The four us went on a trip to Gulliver's World today and, despite a bit of rain around lunch time, we had a really good time. The theme park is aimed at children between 2 and 13 so it was ideal for us. Most of the rides were small and tame and there were lots of little play areas for the smaller ones. My favourite was in the Western World where, alongside the slides and climbing frame, were miniature buildings from a western town; a saloon, bank, jail, church etc which the children could go inside.

There were plenty of places to eat as well as picnic areas, which we used as we'd taken our own packed lunch. As it was raining by then, we used an indoor seating area.

While we waited for The Partner and The Jellyfish to go on one of the slightly bigger rides, Boo and I sat and watched an elephant dance on the stage (she wasn't real, you know. Just pretend, I was informed by Boo).

I will say that some parts of the theme park needed a good dust, sweep and a lick of paint but the kids didn't seem to notice. They were too busy having fun.


Just adding Ms Cow because I like her. She's
off centre because we were in a
moving tractor ride

A Big Thank You



A big thank you to Debs Carr for sending me a copy of Dorothy Koomson's The Woman He Loved Before, which arrived today. Can't wait to start reading it!


Monday, 15 August 2011

Writing Competition

Writing competition here

It's £15 to enter and first prize is £1000 and £100 for the runners up.

Closing date is 30 September 2011

Box Sets & DVDs

I usually watch tv shows one time and that is enough for me (more than enough at times) but ocassionally there will a show that I love so much I want to watch it again. And again. And again.


First up is

Friends
I started watching Friends when it first aired on Channel 4 (I remember hating Caroline in the City  when it replaced it at the end of the series). I loved Friends even if I didn't always relate to them with me being just a kid.

I still love it now and can watch them a million times and still find them funny. I even watched an episode in Spain (on a Spanish channel) and was laughing at the funny bits as I was saying the english words in my head.

The scary thing is, I am older than the friends were at the beginning.

Friends facts:

Joey's address is 90 Bedford St. Apt. 19, New York, NY 10014.

Monica's address is 90 Bedford St. Apt. 20, New York, NY 10014.
Phoebe's address is 5 Morton St. Apt. 14, New York, NY 10014

 
Queer as Folk



 



I was fifteen when Queer as Folk  came out and I loved the series (and not just because I fancied Nathan, which I did. A lot). I was gutted when the second series came out and it was only two episodes (wah).

Queer as Folk is set in Manchester, which is where I'm from so that was also a plus point.

When the character of Frank appeared in Coronation Street I was not impressed. He is a bad man who let Phil die on his kitchen floor and then nicked his wallet. I know, I need to get out more.

Queer as Folk facts:

The role of Alexander was written for Phil Collinson but Anthony Cotton got the part. Phil Collinson became producer.

Cutting It


 


Also set in Manchester, Cutting It told the story of a bunch of hairdressers (or stylists. Whatever) and is full of backstabbing and secrets. Cutting It spanned four series, although they probably should have left it at two. I still enjoy the other two series but they had milked it a bit too much.

Cougar Town


 


A new one in comparison to my other box sets. Cougar Town  doesn't take itself seriously and can be silly at times, which I love. Who doesn't want to see adults playing hide and seek?

I love all the cul-de-sac gang but I think Bobby is my favourite.

Cougar Town facts:

In May 2010, the series' creator Bill Lawrence announced that he was considering change the series' title. Among the titles considered were "Friends & Family", "Friends & Neighbors", "Neighborhood Jules", "The Cul de Sac", "The End of the Street", "The Neighborhood" and "Neighborhooding". Lawrence eventually decided to keep the original title.

(Facts from imdb.com)


Sunday, 14 August 2011

From Notting Hill With Love by Ali McNamara


This is the perfect book for me as I love watching films (though not to the extent of Scarlett) as well as reading.

From Notting Hill With Love... Actually tells the story of Scarlett, a movie-obsessed woman who is taking a break from her life to house sit in Notting Hill. There she meets Oscar and Ursula who decide to help her quest to prove that life can be like the movies. They rope in Scareltt's temporary neighbour to help too and although he annoys Scarlett to begin with, it's quite clear things will change rapidly.

From Notting Hill With Love... Actually was a good read. It was fun and didn't take itself too seriously (how can it when Scarlett keeps ending up in move scenarios) and I loved the film facts at the end. Geek confession here but when I've watched a film I always check on imdb.com for the movie facts.

I enjoyed the read and would recommend it to anyone who likes both chick lit and chick flicks.

Verdict: My cup of tea

Twitter

I have finally dragged my arse out of the dark ages and signed up to Twitter.

The trouble is, what am I supposed to say? Nope, nothing. Hmm, maybe this wasn't such a great idea after all.

How can I attempt to be a writer when I can't even come up with a measly 140 characters?

In case anyone is interested, my Twitter account is @Writer_Jenn

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Book 1 & Baby Steps

Word Count: 68, 000


Not far to go now before the first draft is completed. I didn't think I would get this far with this book. It was so disheartening when I had to scrap my previous two versions (particularly version one which was 50, 000 words in) and the whole book had changed. The same premise was there but I'd taken the bare bones and shifted the focus. I'd worked on the original two versions and knew them so this new version was a stranger to me.


I'll let you in on something... I nearly scrapped the whole thing. I'd put too much work in and now this new book didn't feel like 'my' book. So I gave myself three 'baby steps', three little goals:


  • Complete Chapter One
  • Write Three Chapters
  • Write 10, 000 words
I felt like I had a mammoth task ahead of me and it was daunting but what harm would writing one chapter do? Then after that three chapters wasn't such a leap. I decided I would write 10, 000 words and then reassess my feelings on the book.


By the time I had completed the baby steps, I was into the book and related to my main character and I was actually enjoying writing it so I carried on. I still make baby steps for myself. I don't need them in the same way as I did at the beginning but they do help keep me motivated. Instead of seeing 50, 000 words ahead of me, it is never more than 10, 000 on my goals.


It always feels great to cross out a goal.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Week 3 of the Summer Holidays

What has happened to the weather this week? Has summer been and gone?


Hang on, why am I so surprised? This is England. Of course it's going to rain in August!


We haven't been able to go and out and do much this week due to the weather so we have:


  • had one visit to the park and almost froze in the process but at least it didn't rain for a while
  • made Chocolate and Sultana Rice Krispie Cakes (with added sprinkles and glitter)

  • Made an I Spy Sticker game

    I got the idea from 
    here but I made little cards with things to find for The Jellyfish and Boo (making them easier for Boo as she's only two). I also laminated it so they wouldn't wreck it in five seconds!


  • made chocolate and sprinkles covered strawberries and bananas, which we froze



I can't believe the summer hoildays are half way through. It's going so quick!



Thursday, 11 August 2011

Who Do You Think You Are?

The new series started on BBC last night with June Brown. Next week it will be JK Rowling. Now I know she isn't a chick lit author and I actually can't stick Harry Potter but she is a writer and that'll do for me.

I love WDYTYA. It was the reason I started reseraching my own family tree. I'd be watching the program and wondering how difficult it would be. I really wanted to find out what had happened to my grandma's little brother, who died as a toddler. No-one in the family knew why and my grandma passed away 13 years ago and I don't think she knew either.

I decided to sign up for the two week's free ancestry trial, figuring I had a couple of weeks to see if it was possible for a beginner to do and it wouldn't cost me anything.

I started off with a post-it note with the following:

  • Nora (my great grandmother's name. My mum didn't know her maiden name or anything)
  • Dyson (my grandma's maiden name)
  • Dennis (my grandma's brother's name. My mum knew he died at around eighteen months)
  • Wigan (there was some connection. My mum thought my grandma was born there)
And that was it. Not a great deal to go on. We didn't even know my grandma's dad's name.

I set to work on my two week trial and by the end of it I was a subscriber. I found out why Dennis died, his full name (Dennis Darwin Dyson) and where he was buried. To find this out I did have to order his death certificate as there is only so much information you can get from ancestry.

A tip: Never order certificates directly from ancestry. Take the information from the index on there and go to the GRO website and order from there. Last time I checked, it was over £16 per certificate from ancestry but £9.25 from the governments website.

I found out where he was buried by accident. A woman at the local archives told me burials no longer happened at the nearby churches at that time and Dennis would have been buried or cremated at one of two municipal cemetaries. As the records were in the slow process of being transcribed, I had a long wait ahead and so that part of my search had to pause.

I was hooked by now and moved on to my great grandparents and with the help of their marriage certificate, I found out more about their families and was able to use the censuses to go back further. The church where they got married isn't too far from me (two buses but really easy to get to) and they happened to be holding an open day where you could look at their records.

So off I went and found their record, which has the same information as the certificate but it was nice to see the 'proper' record, especially as it had their signatures (which I took a photo of for my records).

While I was at the church, I thought I'd have a quick look in the burials record. The couple lived nearby, had got married at the church so it wasn't such a stretch that Dennis could be buried there, even though the archives lady said otherwise. It would do no harm to look, seeing as I was there already and the book was in front of me.

And there he was. He was buried at the church after all.

I am still hooked on my family history but I have had to put it on hold at the moment as we are saving for our holiday. I'm itching to get back to it and even writing this is making me want to hop over to ancestry. But no, Mama J. Think of your holiday. It's only a few months away and then you can carry on.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

My Babies Have Arrived

I am so happy I could do a little dance - if there wasn't a laptop on my knee.

I bid on some Farthing Wood figures on eBay the other day and won and they arrived this afternoon!




Although I allowed myself to be a little excited when I was the winning bidder, I tried not to get my hopes up because I was the winning bidder on these same figures (well, the same kind of figures, it was a different seller) a couple of years ago but they never arrived. I was gutted.

But they are here now so I can be excited like a little kid. I've waited 18 years to own these figures. I remember them being a prize on Blue Peter and I wanted them so badly. And now I own them and can add them to my little collection.

Boo wanted to play with them but she can keep her gorgeous little mitts off them. They've never been out of the box and they are never coming out. I'm thinking I need a shelf to display them on...

Monday, 8 August 2011

Top Ten Chick Lit Books

This one was a difficult list to compile. There are loads of books that I love so choosing just ten was difficult. Most of the books I chose are older ones but then I think to become a favourite of mine, time is needed for me to read it a few times.

Here goes:

1)  Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes

I loved this book. It was so good the way Marian Keyes told the story from Rachel's point of view, thinking her family are overreacting. I first read this book after borrowing it from the library and enjoyed it so much, I bought my own copy.



2)  Thirty Nothing by Lisa Jewell

I've lost count of the number of times I've read this book. I love it just as much now as I did when I first read it. I don't think it will ever get old.




3)  One Hit Wonder by Lisa Jewell

Another Lisa Jewell book. I always feel quite sad when I read this because of the lost relationship between the two sisters but that doesn't affect my enjoyment of the book. It's another that I read again every year or two.



4)  Babyville by Jane Green

I think this book will always have a special place on my bookcase. I read this while pregnant with The Jellyfish and I read it for the millionth time a couple of weeks ago.




5)  Come Together by Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees

For the first time, I actually read the first in a line of books. Usually I pick up new (to me) authors several books in and have to play catch up but with these I started at the beginning.





6)  The Bad Mother's Handbook by Kate Long

Loved this book and, quite surprisingly, the tv version was good too





7)  Snap Happy by Fiona Walker

Couldn't put this book down! I had a copy for months and months (back in the days when I had piles of books to get through - sigh) but kept putting it off. I'd been interested enough to buy it but couldn't muster any enthusiasm to read it until one day I ran out of books. And it was fabulous. A great read


8)  Just the Three of Us by Clare Dowling

Another author who I picked up late. I read Just the Three of Us and loved it. The writing flowed nicely and was witty. I then read Going It Alone and have a copy of Amazing Grace waiting to be read.






9)  Mummy Said the F Word by Fiona Gibson

The title of this one pulled me in and I'm glad as I enjoyed the book. Having just looked at her website, I have a few to catch up on!






10) Kiss Him Goodbye by Victoria Routeledge

I've had this book since I was 17. Before going on holiday with my mum, I bought myself three new books from WH Smith. They were the first 'grown up' books I'd read. The three were Bookends by Jane Green, What's New Pussycat by Alexandra Potter and Kiss Him Goodbye by Victoria Routeledge.

I must admit, I read the others first as the covers appealed more with their cartoon people but, having read this book over and over, it is definitely one of my favourites, though I haven't read any others of Victoria's.


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So that's my top ten. How did I do? What are your top ten chick lit books?