Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Things Trumpkin says

About a week ago, I attempted another challenge from my book called Going Greener by Simon Gear. He asked me to have a cup of tea in the garden. It was about appreciating nature and also getting know the garden all year round. When I woke up on the day I intended to do it, it had rained and looked freezing. So I stayed in bed instead.

This morning, I thought, let’s go for it again, get a jumper on and let’s do this! The last few days have been scorchio so I felt confident it would be nice for my challenge.

And then I woke up this morning and came downstairs and…..

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Yeh, I’m regretting putting that towel out on the line now.

And so, the back up plan comes into play. It’s similar to another post I wrote last week, about my favourite quotes from Narnia but today I’m specifically focussing on one character from the fourth book, Prince Caspian, a red dwarf called Trumpkin. You’ll see why I’ve chosen him to quote.

“Horns and halibuts!” exclaimed Trumpkin.

“Bulbs and bolsters!” he thought.

“Whistles and whirligigs!” said Trumpkin.

“Thimbles and thunderstorms!” he cried.

“Lobsters and lollipops!” he muttered.

“Giants and junipers!” Trumpkin shouted.

“Tubs and tortoiseshells!” said Trumpkin.

“Cobbles and kettledrums!” he shouted.

“Wraiths and wreckage!” exclaimed Trumpkin.

“Weights and water-bottles!” came Trumpkin’s angry voice.

Brilliant, aren’t they? We really should speak like this again.

So if you get annoyed at any point today, feel free to use any one of these phrases to exclaim, to show your annoyance. It also works for situations in which you are shocked or excited.

My favourite Narnia quotes

“By gum,” said Digory, “don’t I just wish I was big enough to punch your head!” (The Magician’s Nephew)

“Blast and botheration!” exclaimed Digory. (The Magician’s Nephew)

“That’s all you know,” Digory said to Polly. “It’s because you’re a girl. Girls never want to know anything but gossip and rot about people getting engaged.”
“How exactly like a man!” said Polly in a very grown up voice. “And don’t you say I’m just like a woman, or you’ll be a beastly copy-cat.”
“I should never dream of calling a kid like you a woman,” said Digory loftily.
“Oh, I’m a kid am I?” said Polly who was now in a real rage. “I’ve had enough of you, you beastly, stuck-up obstinate pig!” (The Magician’s Nephew)

“Perhaps I may keep the handkerchief?” said he.
“Rather!” said Lucy. (The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe)

“Well, of all the poisonous little beasts -” said Peter, then said no more.
“I’ll pay you all out for this, you pack of stuck-up, self satisfied prigs.” Edmund was saying to himself. (The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe)

Giants of any sort are now so rare in England and so few giants are good-tempered that ten to one you have never seen a giant when his face is beaming. It’s a sight well worth looking at. (The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe)

“I hope you’ve been quite comfortable,” said Aravis.
“Never better stabled in my life,” said Bree. “But if the husband of that tittering Tarkheena friend of yours is paying his head groom to get the best oats, then I think the head groom is cheating him.” (The Horse And His Boy)

“By Jove!” said Peter. “This is good enough.” (Prince Caspian)

“Well, I’m – I’m jiggered,” said Peter. (Prince Caspian)

“Great Scott!” said Edmund (Prince Caspian)

“Oh bother, bother, bother,” said Susan. (Prince Caspian)

“Why, you silly,” said Peter (who had become strangely excited). (Prince Caspian)

“That’s all right, lass,” said Trumpkin with a chuckle. “A jibe won’t raise a blister.” (Prince Caspian)

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. His parents called him Eustace Clarence and his masters called him Scrubb. I can’t tell you how his friends spoke to him, for he had none. He called his father and mother Harold and Alberta. They were very up-to-date and advanced people. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and tee-totallers and wore a special kind of underclothes. Eustace Clarence liked animals, especially beetles, if they were dead and pinned in a card. He liked books if they had pictures of fat foreign children doing exercises in model schools.” (The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader)

“We thought the King’s Majesty would have married the Duke’s daughter but nothing came of that -”
“Squints and has freckles,” said Caspian.
“Oh, poor girl,” said Lucy. (The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader)

After that, the Dwarf touched up his donkey and it set off towards the castle at something between a trot and a waddle (it was a very fat little beast). (The Silver Chair)

“Little Swine,” shrieked Eustace, dancing in his rage. “Dirty, filthy, treacherous little brutes,” (The Last Battle)

A book review. Ish.

It’s not really a book review at all. It’s a list of the things I love most about D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which I am listening to on audiobook.

1. The way they talk about their ‘crisis’ for an orgasm.

2. Listening to the intimacies of a love affair being explained in a broad Yorkshire accent.

3. When Connie is being described as young and virile and, in amongst it all, her breasts are said to be ‘longish.’

4. The way he talks about her bum as her ‘tail.’

5. The gamekeeper’s long rant about ‘lesbians,’ which leads me to think lesbians must have been something different in 1929. For example, he talks about how he hates lesbians because when he sleeps with a lesbian, they are really selfish in bed. Surely a lesbian, in our sense of the word, wouldn’t be sleeping with him at all?

6. Connie’s constant need for reassurance that makes me want to tell her to shut up; “You do love me, don’t you?” “Don’t you want me?” “Don’t you love me?” “Tell me you love me?” “Do you love me?”

7. Ivy Boulton’s long rambling descriptions of her husband, Ted, and how he died and how he was a miner and how she loved him.

8. The way Connie is said to have a ‘mound of Venus’ and the gamekeeper talks about his ‘John Thomas.’ Brilliant.

The Great Chatsby

A conversation Danda and I had while waiting for a train the other day:

Danda: Laura, have you ever thought about how if that novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald was about a load of overweight people, it would be called The Great Fatsby?!

Laura: O yeh! And if it was about some people playing cricket, it would be called The Great Batsby.

Danda: Oo oo! If it was about taxi drivers, it would be called The Great Cabsby.

Laura: Or about people who wouldn’t stop talking, it would be called The Great Blabsby.

Danda: Or if it was badly written, it would have been called The Great Crapsby.

Laura: Or! Or if it was about that time there was a load of vermin there, The Great Ratsby!

Danda: Or if it was about all the different things they wore on their heads…. The Great Hatsby.

Laura: Or that bit in the book where he gets run over by a steam roller? The Great Flatsby.

Danda: Or when they went to the Tropics and got bitten… The Great Gnatsby.

Laura: Or when he bought a load of stuff at that car boot sale? The Great Tatsby.

Danda: Or that chapter where he put on a load of weight? the Great Gutsby.

Laura: Or when he had to have liposuction? The Great Flabsby.

Danda: Is this… Are we still doing this? Really? It’s been ages now. I feel like we might never stop.

Laura: Shh! Shh, I have another one. Ok. Here’s a good one. What about when he went on a plumbing course? The Great Tapsby!

Danda: Um. Ok. We’re still going.

Laura: Or that episode where Time Team came round to his house? The Great Digsby.

Danda: That was quite weak. We should stop now. They’re getting silly.

Laura: Ok, listen though. Remember when they did it about the working classes? The Great Plebsby.

Danda: This has to stop now….

Laura: What about when the pets took over….?

Danda: Please…..

Laura: The Great…..!

Danda: Enough.

Laura: Catsby!

*Long pause*

Laura: Yeh, ok………. *whispers* What about that time when he got locked out? The Great Latchkey.

Danda: *disdainfully* That was the worst yet. It doesn’t even sound like Gatsby.

Armchair activism…

Yesterday, I was back on the useful thing with a vengeance, so much so that I did about four useful things in one day! I know, I know, I’m so selfless. Four useful things in one day. Yes, that’s right. Four. I’ll be round to do autographs later. Let me tell you what they were.

Wear your heart on your wrist – order a bracelet from Doctors Without Borders
(The Difference A Day Makes by Karen M. Jones)

Let your mouse save a child – visit a website which creates sponsorship through advertiser donations
(The Difference A Day Makes by Karen M. Jones)

Meditate – to improve your mental wellbeing and your dedication to the other tasks in the book
(Going Greener by Simon Gear)

The thing with both of these books, and I knew I was going to have to confront this at some point, is that they are quite country-specific. Karen M. Jones is US-based and Simon Gear is in South Africa. Maybe, to give me a little more to do, I should look for a UK based one. Anyway, my first task was to look up Doctors Without Borders. Having the books on Kindle is great as the website addresses come up as links and I can just click on them – the laziest form of activism, yes I know. So when I clicked on the DWB link, it was an American website. I looked for the bracelet but needed a US address. I decided maybe a donation would be best. It was all in dollars and needed a zip code from me.

Then I saw a little button asking if I wanted to donate from outside America. Yes, please. Click! And I went to the UK site of Medicins Sans Frontieres. I hadn’t realised DWB was the US branch of MSF. I’ve always had good feelings about most of these ‘without borders’ organisations so got stuck into the website and found an easy way to donate by texting 70070 with the letters DOCS01 and an amount.

Easy! I’d like to think that I will train as a doctor and go out and save small children from terrible diseases but the truth is I probably won’t. There are people who have done it and are good at it. So for now, until I complete my degree in medicine with flying colours (any minute now), the best way I can help is by funding their work.

One quick text later and I was all done. First box ticked!

Second one. I was told to visit thechildhealthsite.com and click on things a bit. The sponsors who have adverts on the site will give money to different projects and charities that support healthcare for children. In the tabs at the top there are all different causes you can help simply by clicking. So I got a little click-crazy. I clicked to help the rainforests, improve literacy and stop hunger.

I’m steadily starting to understand the phrase ‘armchair activist.’

Lastly, I was advised by Simon Gear to take twenty minutes each day to meditate, without which, my dedication to my world-saving cause might suffer. So, thought I, I will do this. I will meditate my way to heroicism.

I made sure I was sitting comfortably. I set an alarm for twenty minutes away as checking the clock might disturb my deep and meaningful meditation session.

I closed my eyes… And cleared my thoughts out…. Sort of. A few crept in. I made a mental shopping list to ensure I wouldn’t forget anything. I worked out how many hours there were until I needed to be in work. I wondered if the rain would stop so I could go for a walk. Then I cleared my mind and tried again.

This time was more successful. I enjoyed this second attempt at meditation, although some people (not me), might say that that’s because it strongly resembled what most consider ‘sleeping.’ I was startled awake by the alarm… I mean, I was already awake.

I think meditation is something I’ll need to work on.

And the fourth thing, what about the fourth thing, you’re all wondering.

Well, I went shopping and bought environmentally friendly softener for washing my clothes. I also didn’t wrap my vegetables in plastic bags. I just weighed them and stuck the sticker straight on. Check me out, I’m such a rebel.

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Here endeth the world saving for another day.

You clap. I bow.

Laura to the rescue!

Yesterday, I resolved to get back to my promise to be more useful. Life took over a little at the weekend. But now I have my superhero outfit on again and I am totally on it. So here were my missions for the day.

Shop for something green – try the environmentally friendly option of something you usually buy.
(The Difference A Day Makes by Karen M. Jones)

Use organic toiletries
(Going Green by Simon Gear)

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Thankfully, they’re pretty similar and I needed to go shopping anyway, unless I wanted to feed Danda some quince jam and eggs for dinner.

Off I went, to my favourite Waitrose, and crossed my fingers that they wouldn’t let me down. And it went well, everyone. It went well. Check it out.

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This one isn’t too much of a revolution in my home, actually. When I took it to the bathroom, I almost laughed because the pack of toilet tissue that is currently sitting there is the exact same one! I’m not a stranger to being environmentally aware so I must have, on a subconscious level, whilst mindlessly pottering about shopping, grabbed it because I saw it was recycled paper.

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The next thing was conditioner, which I’ve needed for ages. I keep forgetting what it is I need and when I get to the shop, I pick up a shampoo, guessing it must be that. So I have about five shampoos and almost no conditioner. Yesterday, I finally remembered to get the right thing and looked for something organic, on the advice of Simon Gear. I found one called Avalon Organics, which I’ve used before, and then another one with a foreign sounding name and a useful list on the side. If the list is to be believed, it lacks all the usual crap that makes toiletries so bad for the environment. It was pricey (almost a third of the cost of my entire shopping!) but it’s one of those things I don’t buy often and what’s the point of having money, if you’re not prepared to try and do something useful with it.

Next I went to buy a card in a different shop and saw a chance to be environmentally friendly again.

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Now, Danda is a man who drinks a lot of coffee. And a lot of tea. Every day. All day. A lot of liquids. Very often. And he buys them at local coffee shops. All those paper coffee cups add up. More often than not, he brings them home and recycles them but it would be better to avoid using the paper cups altogether. So I saw this flask in the shop and got it straight away, knowing that Danda would be filled with glee at the prospect of joining me on my world-saving mission. Upon returning home, I presented him with this beautiful ceramic flask, a potential revolution in his coffee-drinking world. Excitement and apprehension flitted across his face…

“Don’t you like it? Should I have got a different colour?”

“No, I love it. I just know I’ll break it. I’ll try not to. But I’m clumsy. We both know this is true.”

I had to admit that it is perhaps true. I mean, I haven’t even told you all the story yet of him making dinner on Thursday and managing to somehow throw my entire plate of food across the kitchen floor. We crossed our fingers and decided to give it a good go. So far, he has had it one day. Let’s see how long he can keep it.

And lastly, a follow up from my second day of world-saving…

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This lovely renewable energy company sent along some info and contracts and will get started imminently. Excited!

A bit of world-saving and a bit of award-receiving

My instructions for yesterday went as follows:

Install solar panels for your water heating
(Going Greener by Simon Gear)

Say it with pixels – save a tree and send an electronic greeting instead.
(The Difference A Day Makes by Karen M. Jones)

The first one, unfortunately, wasn’t the best option for me. I had some rubbish news about a friend and felt rubbish so needed things I could do from the sofa, drinking a cup of tea. So, my version of installing a solar panel was getting in touch with a green energy supplier, called Good Energy, and enquiring about switching my gas and electricity to them. All their energy is local and renewable eg wave and wind power. I did the initial stages of giving them my details so that’s in motion at least.

The second challenge was easier as it is a good friend’s birthday today so I sent him a silly e-card of three pigs singing happy birthday, instead of buying an actual card. Done!

And now onto an award, presented to me by the wonderful JumeiraJames who, coincidentially, lives in an area of Dubai that I lived in when I was a baby.
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The rules for this one are as follows:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 bloggers for this award and link to them.
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

Ok, here’s my seven things…

1. When I was younger, my favourite chocolate bar was Yorkie. Then they brought out that advert saying ‘Not For Girls’ so I stopped buying them. That showed them.

2. I don’t definitely know the difference between bio and non-bio washing powder.

3. I love wildebeest. I just think they’re quite majestic and beautiful.

4. Last night I stayed up quite late doing a jigsaw puzzle.

5. At age 27, I still sometimes put my shoes on the wrong feet. I did it yesterday actually.

6. Today I have a day off. I have been waking up quite early every morning for a little while. To celebrate not having to wake up early, I slept in til 10.20am and am seriously considering eating strawberry cheesecake for breakfast.

7. I don’t drink alcohol. Not to make a statement about anything. I just don’t. Herbal tea is my preferred drink of choice.

Now for my fifteen nominations. Here goes …

1. Lovefoodlovefashion – new on the blogging scene but fabulous. I can’t understand what took her so long to start!

2. The Waiting – following the adventures and photoshoots of the little one is the backdrop to my days.

3. A Londoner in Dorset – once an adventurer in far off lands, she is now exploring parts of England in her new home. Always something lovely to read here.

4. Fiammisday – beautiful clothes, beautiful shoes. Despite being childless by choice, I sometimes wish I had someone small to dress in these outfits!

5. Bagni di Lucca and Beyond – the first place I look when planning a trip to Italy (Naples in April).

6. Someone Fat Happened – what’s not to love about a farting dog accompanying your yoga session or childhood pictures which prompt laughter? All of life is here. Wedding jitters, work frustration, family life.

7. Jump For Joy Project – the perfect pick me up if feeling rubbish or wondering what to do with your life.

8. Campari and Sofa – there is tons to love in this blog (a mutual appreciation of the Tube being one of them) but I think the recent post about the treatment of women is one everyone should read.

9. Blogging For A Good Book – you can never have too many good book recommendations!

10. Our Adventures In Croatia – reading this blog gives me adventure-envy. Lots of beautiful pictures. I must travel more! The recent post on Venice bridges got me planning my next-next trip to Italy (the next one is already planned and waiting to come to fruition!).

11. Ordinary Lisa – just lovely honest writing. If ever there was a blog that encouraged me to notice and appreciate the things and people around me, this would be it.

12. British Museum Blog – loads of great stuff here. They are doing a small series of posts called London in 20 objects which is fascinating. Have a look!

13. Le Zoe Musings – now it might just be the Instagram effect but this woman’s life appears to be lived in varying shades of beautiful.

14. Live To Write – Write To Live – if I can’t think what to write about or just need some inspiration or writing advice, I don’t need to look any further than this blog.

15. Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast – I have been following this blog almost since I started blogging. The stories this plantation has to tell from the past and the present are amazing. I can’t wait to visit, which I will do one day!

I am the Litter Lady!

Day 1 of usefulness went well. I had the following two instructions.

Un-litter the land – take a trash bag to the local playground or park and pick up litter.
(The Difference A Day Makes by Karen M. Jones)

Separate your rubbish – keep aside things that need recycling and, once a week, take it to your local recycling bins.
(Going Green by Simon Gear)

The second one requires nothing of me as I am fortunate enough to live in an area where the council provides each individual home with three recycling bins – one for food, one for paper and one for everything else. So I already have that covered. That box is ticked.

The first one I did when I got in from work yesterday afternoon. I got a recycle-able paper bag and walked to my favourite park. Along the way, however, I noticed three things.

The first was that there was rubbish on the ground that I was passing to get to the park. So I started picking that up on my way and filling my bag.

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The second was that walking with my head down looking at the ground gives me a bit of a bad back as I tend to look up when I walk. I felt a bit Hunchback Of Notre Dame-esque.

The third was that I had left my Crocs on after work which, Danda says, makes me look ‘like a tramp.’

So there I was, hunched over, in my best tramp get-up, collecting rubbish in a bag. I dread to think what people thought I was doing. Getting padding for my pretend mattress made of old newspapers and plastic bags, probably.

Anyway, despite my Hunchback and bad Crocs, I soldiered on until, at the end of the road into the park, I found a load of recycling bins. I recycled all I could, emptied the unrecyclables into a bin and then recycled the bag.

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I then straightened up and treated myself to a long walk around the park.

I no longer had my hunchback or my bag of rubbish but I did still have my Crocs on….

Trying to be useful

Ok, everyone. It’s time for me to admit something. I’ve been living selfishly. It is the first time I have done so since deciding a while ago, that I was going to live unselfishly. I did my undergraduate degree in Human Rights and officially have letters that I can put after my name to prove I have some knowledge in this area. I became very interested in the issue of capital punishment and went to law school with this in mind.

…And then the law degree was long… And difficult…. And dry…. And not so interesting…. Which took me by surprise. I also wasn’t very good at it. No matter how much I studied and prepared and did masses of extra reading, I’d go to tutorials and the tutors would ask a question. As the excitable student I am, I’d be there, hand in the air going “Me! Me! Pick me! I know!” Then I’d say something like, “Fisher v Bell.” And the tutor would go, “No.”

….Ah. Um. Ok.

My exams last May were tough. My brain almost caved in. I needed a break. I liked people and I wanted to do good things with my life. But I needed to retreat and recoup.

My operation midway through the degree also didn’t help. I know it’s illogical and I know there is no answer to it but I felt annoyed and wanted to know why. Why had it happened to me? I wasn’t annoyed actually, I was pissed off. Really pissed off. Retreating and recovering was a way for me to also process what had happened. There’s nothing like a brush with death to clarify the important things in life!

So since May I have been doing things I like, to kind of shake everything off and make myself a blank page again. To start from scratch and remember what it is want to do. So I have been blogging, baking, eating, writing, reading, walking, seeing friends. And it is lovely. I like my life and I like how I spend my time.

But now I’m ready to get involved again. I want to do useful things with my time again. I watched Cloud Atlas tonight and someone said there is no point joining a cause you believe in as it will just be a drop in the ocean. The reply was that yes, it is just a drop in the ocean but the ocean is made up of drops.

I’m going to do an experiment for a while. I’ve downloaded two books about small daily actions which can make a little difference. One is about trying to live a more environmentally friendly life. The other is about anything and everything. I’ll post the tips from both books and try to do whichever is most feasible, or both if I can.

Let’s see how being nice goes….

Wish me luck.

The time I surprised my Dad

Last year, for my Dad’s birthday, I decided I would go to Liverpool to see him but I didn’t tell him. I thought it would be more fun to surprise him. For the train journey, I had some food and study books with me as I had a huge peice of work due a week later. One of them I guarded with my life. It was the Blackstone’s guide to the corporate homicide and corporate manslaughter act. Blackstone’s guides are like the be-all and end-all in the world of academic law. Everything you want to know about a law will be in one of their guides. It was a thin 170 pages and had cost me £48. But there was no way around getting one. So I had it and it was my most prized possession.

When I got to the main station in Liverpool, I clutched my Blackstone’s guide and went to buy a ticket to the stop nearest to my Dad’s house. With my ticket, I then boarded the train, went the six or so stops, then got off. As I headed out of the station, I realised my hands were empty! Where was my Blackstone’s guide?! My very expensive Blackstone’s guide? The one that I wouldn’t be able to get another copy of in time for my essay deadline.

Panicked, I raced to the ticket office and explained that it had either been left on the desk when I bought my ticket in town or on the train. Panic, PANIC! Where was it? The railway man, thankfully, dealt very efficiently with this madwoman having a panic attack in from of him.

He located it in the station in town and I asked them to keep hold of it, I would go back. The next train was in 20 minutes so I quickly ran to the house, didn’t see my dad’s car, so assumed he was at work and threw my bag down before racing back to the station. I put a pack of ham in the fridge that I hadn’t eaten on the journey. I had also made my Dad a hamper of baked goodies so put it on the sofa, in the seat behind the door where he usually sits so he would see it when he got home.

Picking the book up was fine and on the way back, I called the house to check if my Dad was home. He wasn’t so I headed straight for a friends house. I spent the evening there and got home later but my Dad still wasn’t home. Eventually I just wrote him a note and left it in the hallway and went to bed.

And here is my Dad’s version of events:

“I was upstairs on the computer when I heard a sound like the door being opened then closed. I went downstairs to see what the sound was but didn’t see anything. I popped my head into the front room but didn’t see anyone. I went to the fridge to get my sandwiches to take to work and saw a pack of ham in there which hadn’t been there before. Confused, I just got my sandwiches and went out to work, figuring there must be an explanation for it. When I got home late from work, there was a note on the floor saying Laura was home!”

That’s right. He’d been there the whole time. But because he wasn’t expecting me, he just thought he was hearing things when he heard the door open. So the whole first day I was in Liverpool, we spent missing each other, like ships passing the night. Well done, Laura!