Tag Archives: literature

Mid-January Update…

Well, it’s the middle of the first month of the new year – how’s it going so far?

Of my “10 things to do in 2014” list, I am going great guns with exercising every day.

I am doing the 10 minute exercise DVD – one for my abs and one for my legs and bum – I have done them religiously every day. I’m also doing a 30-day arm challenge designed to tone up my arms (no bingo wings or muffin tops here!)

And yes, sometimes it is hard to motivate myself to do them. Any form of regular exercise, be it going to the gym or doing stuff at home, does require motivation and an inner discipline to get on and do it even though your chimp part of your brain wants to take the easy option and slouch on the couch in your pyjamas.

But, my discipline is, if I can take a 20 minute coffee break during the day, I’ve got time to do 20 minutes of exercising.

So, for the past 17 days I have exercised – abs, legs and bum, and arms.

And guess what?

I’m beginning to notice a difference.

Any form of exercise is going to take a while to see any change – and I think that’s where some people can get disheartened as they may expect to see instantaneous results after 100 crunches – I believe that it takes 2 weeks for you to begin to see a difference and 4 weeks for other people to start noticing.

So you have to keep going if you want to see results.

And aside from the obvious toning up aspect, the other advantage to exercising is the release of happy hormones 😉

I’ve also started reading Tolstoy’s “War & Peace”.

I downloaded it onto the kindle as it’s the kind of thing I can pick up and read a little bit of whilst waiting for SC at any one of his various after-school things.

I’m 8% in, so far.

To be honest, I have had to force myself to read it.

Up until 6% I was thinking it was possible the dullest book in the history of books, but the action seems to have picked up a bit now.

Drunken debauchery resulting in a bear being tied to a policeman and both being thrown in a river – the offenders being sent home in disgrace, some Count has died whilst people were squabbling over his will, literally over his death-bed, and there are letters which give the merest hint of forbidden love between women in 19th century Russia…who knew it was a forerunner of 50 Shades of rubbish!

Maybe when I’ve finished this, I’ll settle down with “Gone with the Wind” – just as long a book and film!

 

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Friday Poem – If

Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem “If”:

IF

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

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The Ultimate Literary Hero

When people, and I mean mainly women here, think of a literary hero images that spring to mind are of a tall, dark and handsome chap with a brooding air, think Mr Darcy, Heathcliff.

What people don’t imagine is a 6-foot, red-headed, 18th century Scot.

Believe me though, I defy anyone not to fall in love with a certain James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, Laird of Lallybroch and the erstwhile hero of Diana Gabaldon’s series of books about him and his life with Claire Beauchamp a nurse who stumbles across a time portal on honeymoon in Scotland in 1945 and finds herself back in 18th century Scotland.

Sounds incredulous, and far too dull a book I hear you cry.

When I go to a bookshop (far too few around these days, (curses to Amazon) and I used to love spending hours in them) I don’t choose a book because it’s in the top ten, or it’s a classic. I choose purely on what the cover looks like and what I read on the back. It doesn’t always work, I’ve certainly read some that I will not be reading again (The Island and Life of Pi spring to mind). For the life of me, I can’t remember why I picked up Cross Stitch, but from what I read on the back it must have sounded quite a good read. And boy, this time I wasn’t wrong!

Cross Stitch (Outlander in the US) is the first book in the series by Diana Gabaldon and from the moment I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. I was almost feeding a habit, I wanted to know what happened, when Jamie (we’re on first name terms don’t you know) gets all macho and heroic you feel like swooning and thinking “why can’t I find someone who’d protect me like that?” And, more importantly, I cared about the characters.

At the time I discovered Jamie, I was working in London and would read waiting for the train, on the train and sometimes, if I got to a really good bit on my way to the office or car, depending on which part of the day it was.

So what is it about the Laird of Lallybroch?

He’s not the archetypal tall, dark and handsome hero of classic literature.

He’s a rough, tough macho man, without the ego, who would do anything to protect those he loved, with the most gentle, caring side to his personality. Traits I feel are all too lacking in this day and age. In today’s world I’d guess you’d say he’s in touch with his feminine side, but not too much as to overshadow the he-man

Top 5 Jamie qualities:

  1. Not afraid to say how he feels
  2. Will fight for honour and justice
  3. There’s no side to him and no ego – what you see is what you get – how very refreshing!
  4. He’s gentle and loving
  5. He’s very sexy!!

Oh, if only there was someone out there like that, 6 foot plus and a red-head to boot…

He’s everything a woman could want from a man – if you don’t believe me, read the books. He’s a well-kept secret!! Although, when I was first reading the books I mentioned to a friend about them, and she already loved them, then my mum told my aunt who said that my cousin loved them (to the extent her children are named after characters in the book!)

So, it isn’t just me. Women all over the world are falling in love with Jamie Fraser!

That’s right, we’re all in love with someone we can’t have because the only place he exists is in our imaginations. I guess that’s the power of books!

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Tears of a Clown

… they would be mine.

I would be that clown.

I cry at anything. It doesn’t take much. Tears of emotion rather than actually outburst of sobbing, I hasten to add. I’m emotional but not that bad. If something touches me, I start to well up.

So what makes me weep:

  1. Films – the best films to get me going are: An Affair to Remember, Camelot, Schindler’s List and Carousel;
  2. Books – I have been known to well up reading books. I turned to the last page of Roots and started! Other books that made me cry were Boudica by Manda Scott – that was rather embarrassing as I happened to be on the commuter train home at the time. I had to bite my lip spectacularly hard and put the book away. Only when I got home could I read the bit I had got to, and blubbed big time! The Red Tent by Anita Diamant and Anne of Green Gables – where her and Gil get together (sigh!)
  3. Music – music is very emotional and it can be a pop song, or a piece of classical music, that gets me going. It only takes 5 notes of the theme tune from Schindler’s List to start me off, amongst many. It really depends what mood I’m in. If I’m feeling a bit low, or have been thinking too much about things I have no control over, then it really could be anything from the Carpenters to Snow Patrol!
  4. Children – I well up every time I go and see SC at school, concert, assembly. Probably emotional pride and happiness, but it gets me going. Working with children I get very emotional when, for no reason, they just give me groups hugs at the end of class, or it’s the last day of term and I’m not going to see them for a while.
  5. Getting hurt – but then, doesn’t everyone!

What was the last thing to make you cry?

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10 interesting (or not) facts about me!

So, here you go 10 interesting (or not) facts about “l’il ol’ me!”

  1. I don’t smoke or drink – prefer not to harm my lungs or liver! I don’t drink purely because I don’t like the taste – some wines really would be better being poured over a plate of chips! And smoking, ladies, whatever the magazines and films may make you think does not look glamorous, or cool. But just because I don’t drink or smoke does not mean I don’t know how to enjoy myself 😉
  2. I love the smell of coffee but cannot stand the taste. Seriously, I love the smell you get from opening a jar of coffee, but can’t drink it, no matter how milky, frothy or decorated with sprinkles you make it! I prefer a good old cup of tea. Brewed the builder’s way – tea-bag in mug, milk, no sugar, preferably de-caffeinated but not compulsory 😉
  3. I’m allergic to e-numbers and chocolate! That’s right chocolate. I go totally haywire, and you end up having to scrape me off the ceiling. Not a pretty sight. Chocolate gives most people an incredible high – that’s why everyone loves it – but some for some people it has the opposite effect. As for me, well if I have chocolate or e-numbers I make Mr Hyde look like a pussy cat. I literally writhe about on the floor wanting to rip every limb of my body out of its socket to replace it as my muscles completely tense up.
  4. I’m an old-fashioned romantic at heart – still waiting for a handsome prince to sweep me off my feet. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in that. A girl should be wooed by a potential suitor – hearts and flowers (deep red fragrant roses obviously and happen to be my favourite) and all that jazz. It is all about romance – don’t let Cosmo or Elle tell you any different. Deep down, every girl wants the fairytale.
  5. I love reading. I’ll read anything. I pick books literally by scanning the shelves and looking at the front cover. If I like what I see I’ll buy it. I’ve read some hummers mind you. But have also read some surprisingly good ones. I am lucky that I can skim read (I can also read upside-down, but that’s only handy in interviews 😉 ) so without interruption I can read a book in about a day. I went on a fortnight’s holiday once and took 6 books with me. Take away the 2 travel days and 3 excursion days. I read all 6 in the remaining 9 – and still had time to read one again!
  6. I am completely obsessed when it comes to washing my clothes – no one, but myself can touch my washing. For the simple fact all washing machines shrink clothes! Once they are washed – on the gentlest cycle and lowest spin setting – they have to be stretched to within an inch of their life. I am at one with my obsession! But don’t think you’d be doing me a favour by doing my washing, seriously, and don’t even think tumble drier unless you want Mr Hyde to reappear!
  7. Pants – another obsession. I want a pair of pants to cover my backside. I don’t do dental floss up my bum and seriously if I wanted boy shorts I’d grow a penis (they are just as bad as G-strings as they end up stuck up your bum. Why is it so difficult to find a pair that covers your bottom. Even those that are supposed to … don’t – yes I’m talking M&S!
  8. I love cooking. I have a raft of recipe books, but at the moment very little time to actually try out different recipes. My friends used to call me the ‘dessert queen’ as I always came up trumps with pudding – essential I feel to finish off the meal. If I go out to eat I prefer main and dessert to starter and main.
  9. I’ve been vegetarian since I was 14 – not through any moral standing, just purely based on watching a video in a biology lesson about how they killed animals. My friend and I looked at each other and said “not eating meat again!” – she caved after a few weeks, I’m still going. To be honest, never was a huge fan of meat. I eat fish, and have no problems handling and cooking meat for others.
  10. I am a single mother. It certainly wasn’t a path I envisaged, but that just serves me right for picking a toad! Still, I am blessed with SC, and thank the angels every day for sending me such a wonderful gift. I didn’t want SC to be an only child, when I was little I always wanted 6 children! Now I think 2 or 3 would be a good number – if pushing it, considering my age and lack of handsome prince. But if I’m a really good girl, one day, who knows, maybe I’ll get to play happy families like everyone else 😉

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