Monday, 31 December 2007

Secret Santa

hmmmmmm, I am still waiting for my LibraryThing Secret Santa book. I was expecting it to be either at home or with my neighbours when I got home last night, but no, much to my disappointment there wasn't even a delivery card saying that they would try again later!

So where it is...I do not quite know, but I am still waiting!! I expect that the courier service being used may well have backlogs or simply closed for Christmas - who knows!!

If you have a look on the LibraryThing website in the Talk section, there is clear evidence of other people receiving their books and being very happy with them. In fact, I have had a nice message from my Secret Santa person saying that she had not read the two books that I chose for her and she is very pleased and very thankful - so that was nice to know! BUT I still want my book!!! ;-)

Ghost town

I am at work this morning (New Year's Eve) and there are very few people about!! At this very moment there is one person (besides me of course!) in the Library and she is quite happily studying away in the corner, needing no interference from me!!

And it's a good job too as I can't hear particularly well this morning - my cold/cough/bleurgh has made me deafer than usual!! Mind you, I do feel a lot better than I did a few days ago when I curled up in bed with the cat (not Phoebe, but Muffin - one of Mum and Dad's cats!!) and persuaded people to bring me cups of tea!!

It is quite strange here at work though as there is usually more than one library staff member around, but we are working on a skeleton staff basis at the moment - all will be back to normal on Wednesday. It still feels odd though not having other people to talk to, I wonder what it is like elsewhere in the building!! I expect that some departments are busier than others and all the office staff are looking forward to having tomorrow off work!

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Christmas Day!!

Well, that was it!! Today is now practically over, my niece is in bed and my nephew is just about to go to bed!!

We have all had a very good day, Mum, Dad, Matt and I stayed at a local Bed and Breakfast as there really isn't enough room at the house. It is a very nice B&B, so nice that for breakfast we also had Christmas crackers and presents!! How thoughtful of them!

Anyway, by the time we got to Andy's house, my nephew was just about climbing the walls as he wanted to begin opening the presents and he had been told that he couldn't until we had arrived!!

There have been presents and fun aplenty today Everybody seems to have had the presents that they would like! Andy has been deep into the book that I gave him - An utterly impartial history of Britain by John O'Farrell and he is now playing his Godfather computer game!! Mum is reading her cookbook for Grannies by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, Matt is half asleep on the sofa as he has not been feeling too good since yesterday. :-( But he did get a few DVDs that he wanted, such as the boxset of Futurama!

I certainly have had some lovely presents - a lovely ZPM washbag for my trip to Australia, an amber necklace, and a gorgeous wooden jewellery box - I am certainly looking forward to sorting out my jewellery now as it badly needs doing!! Andy and Marielle definitely struck inspiration there as I have been wanting one for a while!!

I hope you have all been as successful and have had a lovely day!

Monday, 24 December 2007

By the way....

...if you want to find out where Santa has got can track him via the NORAD website!!

Last time I checked he was in Australia!!

In anycase I am now off to Cambridge for my Christmas!!

Am I ready?

I think that I am now ready for Christmas, although it was touch and go this morning when I had a few things to finish off before going to work!! That's what comes of going to London two days before Christmas, but never mind!!

I hope that I have packed everything I need for Christmas in Cambridge! At the very least, the presents are in the car, so I need not worry about that! I may need to do a bit of repair when I arrive this evening as I think that the wrapping has torn on one of the presents.

This morning was just crazy - I even made up some chocolate butter cream icing to put in a pot so that I could ice the yule log this evening as I didn't know what would be available in Marielle's kitchen! It is certainly cold enough outside that the icing should be ok - I will probably taste it just to make sure!! ;-)

Oh well, if I have forgotten anything, it will just have to remain forgotten! I would say that at least I have my wallet, but there will be very few shops open tomorrow if I have forgotten anything drastic! But I don't think that I have, it is just that I always feel this way when I am standing in the doorway to my house and rapidly go over everything in my mind - undies - check, socks - check, jeans - check, jumpers - check, and so it goes on!!!!

Anyway, I shall be leaving at 3pm this afternoon and with a quick stop on the way drop off a present for some friends, I should hopefully be in Cambridge by 7pm at the latest all ready to start Christmas!!

Merry Christmas to you all!

Thirty Christmas questions - part three!

Well, it is now Christmas Eve and here are the final set of questions that make up my set of Christmas questions!

21. Stockings before or after presents?
What a question - first thing in the morning before anything else of course!

22. Go to someone else's house or they come to you?
Well, I always go to someone else's house because I usually spend Christmas at my parents.

23. What is your favourite holiday smell?
I always associate cinnamon with Christmas, but I don't think that I have a particularly favourite fragrance that brings to mind the holiday.

24. Can you name all the reindeer?
Erm......Rudolph, Blitzen, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Cupid, Comet, Vixen - no, not without reverting the internet! And the rest of them are...well, to my surprise I have only missed out Donner according to Wikipedia!! (mind you, Rudolph, isn't actually one of the original reindeer as mentioned in The night before Christmas)

25. Do you bake biscuits?
Not specifically for Christmas, no.

26. Do you go caroling?
No, not in the sense that this question means anyway as I don't go caroling from door-to-door, but will go to a carol concert and join in the singing - very quietly I might add!!

27. Do you drive around and look at the Christmas lights?
No, not on purpose anyway, but I can see them on the way home from work!

28. Favourite Christmas tradition?
Nope, can't think of a favourite, I just enjoy the whole thing from start to finish!

29. What is your favourite Christmas memory?
I mentioned earlier that my most enduring Christmas memory (see my meme) is one of feeling the stocking lie on my feet first thing in the morning, but I would not say that this is my favourite. I can't actually pick out a favourite as I just love the whole thing!!

30. Christmas wish for this year?
Well, I don't know, I could be traditional and go for Peace on Earth!

And that's it, my Thirty Christmas Questions! I hope you enjoyed them!

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Little Christmas Eve

I came across the above phrase the other day when I was reading The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder, it was what one of the characters called the day before Christmas Eve and I thought that it was rather nice!

Well, today is the Little Christmas Eve and I have just come back from London!! Ann, Trish and I had the day in London - we specifically went so that we could go to the Royal Albert Hall to see Carols by Candlelight - performance started at 4:30pm.

However, the cheapest train that we could find was at 10:41am, but that was ok cos we decided that we would go to London and have lunch and perhaps visit Harrods or something before going on to the Royal Albert Hall.

Well, we got to London ok, although I had a moments panic when I realised just how frozen my car was when I left the house - it was doubly frozen - apparently we'd had rain in the middle of the night and it was really quite difficult to scrape off the side windows, but like I have said before - thank goodness for heated windscreens!! (mind you, the frost did actually look quite pretty!!)

We got to London and after a moments indecision we decided to go and find lunch in Harrods (!). While I am sure that most of you know that Harrods takes up a whole block, did you also know that there are umpteen restaurants!! At least one on each floor, with, I think, four on the top floor!! Anyway, we felt that we weren't posh enough for the Dress Circle restaurant, so we walked up to the fourth floor and hunted down Mo's Diner.

And I really do mean "hunted down" - it was surprisingly difficult to find!! We managed to find it in the end though after getting a few directions!! And it was exactly what you might expect of an American diner! I had a hotdog with chips and a vanilla milkshake, Trish had a spicy chicken wrap and Ann had soup and potato wedges - it was very nice indeed.

By the time we finished lunch it was getting on for two o'clock, so we decided to wander around Harrods pretending to be swanky buyers!! ;-) I did actually get a couple of books and some chocolates, while Ann and Trish treated themselves to a pastry!

Anyway, we eventually had to leave to get to the Royal Albert Hall - it was only a short walk down the road, so that was ok. We got there in plenty of time for a cup of tea and then we settled down for an evening of carols!

I had never been in the Royal Albert Hall before, so that was quite something. It was odd, it looks both bigger and smaller than it does on the television - quite bizarre! In any case, we all enjoyed the music and joined in where audience participation was called for!!!

The train journey home was just as uneventful as the one in the morning and I dropped Ann and Trish off at home before heading home myself, so now I have fed the cat and am off to bed!!

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Dinner party!

Well, last night was the dinner party night! I cooked dinner for six people which includes my library staff and me! Fortunately, everyone was very patient as I vastly underestimated how long it would take me to prepare dinner!!

I had chosen Jamie Oliver's Chicken Breasts In A Bag recipe, mainly because it was simple - just throw a load of stuff into a foil bag and chuck it in the oven. Well, that was the theory anyway - it was not quite so simple!

The trouble was that the preparation was actually quite fiddly, for instance I had to do things like peel and slice two cloves of garlic, fold and create the foil bag, chop the 9oz of mushrooms, cook the pototoes and slice them, and then after all that, I had to carefully stuff the bag! (I had to make three bags too as each bag contained two chicken breasts, so for six people....)

In the end, instead of eating at 7:30 as I had planned (the invite was 7pm for 7:30pm!) we eventually sat down to eat at 8:30pm - whoops! Fortunately everybody alreadys knows everybody and so was quite happy to open the drinks and sit down to chat in the lounge.

The meal itself was very nice - the wine component was a bit too strong and the garlic came through quite strongly, but it was very nice - three plates were almost totally cleared and the other three less so, so I think that I can call that a success!!

Pudding was just as successful - I had a raspberry meringue and a chocolate roulade (not made from scratch thankfully!) - thanks to Ann for whipping the cream and assembling the roulade! ;-)

After dinner we did the Secret Santa thing - all the presents were very nice - let me tell you them in the order that they were opened - Ann had a little pot of handcream and a manicure kit, Judith had a little red umbrella for her handbag, Nicola had a lovely set of minature jams, Bridget had a bag of handlotions and stuff, Trish had a new mug, and I had a drawstring travel washbag (just right for my trip to Australia!!) and I think that everybody was happy!

Friday, 21 December 2007

Nice people

Christmas always brings out the nice people!! In the library, we get to see those generous people who bring us some goodies to say thank you for all the work that have done for them over the year.

This year, we have had a box of biscuits from a Consultant, a box of chocolates from a Modern Matron (new, revamped NHS term!!) and another box of biscuits from a Sister; so we are feeling most appreciated here in the library!

Of course, it works both ways, we have given some chocolates to the lady who brings and collects our post every day, a box of biscuits to the IT department...after all, they are the ones that keep our computers going and put up with us when we telephone with yet another computer problem!!

The library notice board behind the duty desk is now covered in Christmas cards or posters printed out from emails sent from libraries around the region - it is looking very Christmassy!

Thirty Christmas questions - part two!

Here we go - part two of those questions that I started yesterday!!

11. Do you decorate the outside of your house?
No, but I love seeing what other people have done!

12. What is your favourite food at Christmas?
I don't think that I really have an absolute favourite, but I would be disappointed if sausages wrapped in bacon did not make an appearance or if the sausage rolls ran out!! ;-)

13. Have you started your Christmas shopping?
I should think so given that there are only a few days left!!

14. Have you finished your Christmas shopping?
Present-wise yes, but I am sure that I have a few other bits and pieces to get!

15. What's your favourite Christmas song?
Well, a few weeks ago, I said "We three kings of Orient", But it does depend on what I have in my car when you ask the question, and at the moment my favourite is "The Holly and the Ivy"!

16. Have you ever kissed under mistletoe?
Unfortunately no - any volunteers?!? ;-)

17. How early do you wake up on Christmas?
Not as early as I used to that's for sure! I think that 8am sounds about right.

18. Do you put up your own Christmas tree?
But of course!

19. Do you get a fake or real Christmas tree?
A fake one that I have had for a few years now, I would love to have a real tree, but it just seems a little too much bother!

20. Do you use homemade or store-bought ornaments?
Both, although the only homemade ones are white knitted (possibly crocheted) angels that were made by my Nana and I treasure them.

So endeth part two!

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Thirty Christmas questions - part one!

I found this on the internet the other day, and while it isn't a meme, it looked like fun and was all about Christmas, so I thought that I'd answer the questions!! Fortunately I have chosen not to answer them all at once as thirty questions (plus assorted answers!) would make for a very very long post!!! I really wouldn't want to bore you too much before Christmas!!

1. Snow or no snow?
I love snow and would love to have a white Christmas one day!

2. Eggnog/hot chocolate/cider?
Cider? Do people offer cider as a particularly Christmassy drink? Have never had eggnog although I did have an eggnog flavoured latte (Starbucks!) the other day and didn't think much of it, so by elimination and utter personal choice it would have to be hot chocolate!

3. Naughty or nice?
Oh, nice of course!

4. Ham or Turkey?
Turkey - in particular I seem to just love Turkey gravy!

5. Star or angel?
I don't really have a preference for either, but do have an angel on my tree.

6. Blinking lights or still lights?
Still - they are more soothing.

7. White lights or coloured lights?
Either - I actually have both on my tree!

8. Give or receive?
Would have to say both!! I love to find the right present , but I also love getting presents!! (who doesn't?)

9. Favourite Christmas film?
It seems to change every year, but I like Santa Clause: the movie; Christmas Carol (in all variations!)

10. Do you like candy canes?
Erm - sort of - I have pretty glass ones that hang off my tree, but I don't think that I would buy them as sweeties.

So, there you go and it's a good job that these questions were not either/or so I could choose both!! Part one is done - parts two and three I will do sometime before Christmas - not long to go now!!!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

First sentences

There are a whole bunch of memes floating around at the moment and I want to do them all, but that would be silly as my blog is not about memes! However, I particularly like this one that I found here at the FreeRangeLibrarian and although I have not been blogging all that long, I thought that I would join in.

And why would not blogging that long make any difference? The reason being is because this meme is about First Sentences in that you have to list the first sentence of each post of each month for the last I obviously haven't got a whole year to play with, but will certainly do what I can with what little I have!!

In reverse chronological order...

December Given how much I just love Christmas, I have decided to set up a meme of my own - all about Christmas!

November Murder committed last night!

October I have been having fun with Google maps!!

September I have just been going through some photos that I took lately and came across this one!

August Pinch punch and it's the first of the month and no returns!

July Hello and welcome to my blog.

Quite the little snapshot of my blog!! Anyway, if you'd like to do this one....consider yourself tagged!


How many of you get on well with your colleagues? Or if you are a manager - how many of you get on well with your staff?

There are six of us in the Library, me and four staff that I manage, plus one other that works in the library and is part of the team but is paid by the University rather than the hospital and she is not managed by me.

Anyway, we all get on very well and usually have a laugh!! It has been particularly funny this week - probably just the lead up to Christmas! I shall be naming no names here, but one of them (you know who you are!!) managed to get one over me on Monday!

I don't know why it came up, but I asked her to confirm that she would be working on the Thursday after Christmas and she looked at me with a very straight face and said no. I was quite horrified and thought that I had gotten it wrong and would need to redo the rota and find someone to work in the library on that day. Fortunately it didn't take long for me to twig that she was having me on!! (she said that it was very difficult to keep a straight face!!)

Yesterday, it was someone else that made me laugh - we got talking about her daughter's car and the number of times that someone else had bumped the car. She (again no names - but you know who you are!!) said that she'd heard that apparently silver cars get hit by other vehicles most...but then she followed that up with...but most cars are silver anyway; to which I said something like - if most cars are silver then most cars are going to be hit anyway!!! Statistically it just didn't work to prove her statement!!

Anyway, I am just so glad that we do all get on as well as we do, which is a good thing as we all work in the same office - no, I don't get to have a private office just because I am the boss!! I am also glad that we get on well because they are all coming to my house for dinner this Friday!!!

I think that this is the third year in a row that we will have had a Christmas get-together at my house. The last two occassions were more of a pot-luck, I think that we had jacket potatoes both times and everybody brought a bowl of toppings along!! This year, however, I have decided to do the meal myself!! And before you ask, no - it wont be sausages and mash!!

I have yet to buy the dessert - I was going to make one, but have simply run out of time!! I am sure that Sainsburys will come up trumps there!! As for the meal itself, I am going to go for chicken - one of those chicken in foil things that means that you can just bung it all in the oven and forget about it!! The potatoes will be roast (I hope!) and the veg will be steamed in my brand new steamer - so I think that I have got it all planned!!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Book Challenge - Dancing with Eva

This book was written by Alan Judd and for some reason I actually have his signature inside the book!! I know for certain that I did not go to a book signing or meet him in person. I do, however, have a vague recollection of buying this book at the Martello Bookshop in Rye and they often have books signed by the author.

Well, on with the review - this is the fourth book of my Book Challenge and it has been the most surprising so far as the end of the book has quite a twist! Naturally, I wont be mentioning any spoilers here as I think that there is nothing worse than reading spoilers (whether for books, film, theatre, whatever!) particularly if you weren't actively looking for them!

Dancing with Eva is a relatively short book and it gives you the conversation between two people over a day and a night - Eva and Hans are talking about what happened to them during the Second World War - in particular, it is Hans that wants to talk about this, Eva is somewhat reluctant.

The author skillfully builds up the story and maintains the mystery right up until the end, although as I was reading the book, I was not aware that there was a mystery to be had, which is part of what makes the book so good. All I was aware of was that Hans wanted to talk about the war but Eva didn't and the story covered Eva's suspicion of Hans and how he managed to get her talking about something that she had not spoken of for decades, indeed, Eva feels that the conversation is something of a catharsis even as she resents Hans' questions.

I certainly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone, I am just sorry that I left it on my shelf for longer than I should have done, but that just goes to show that you never know what you will find between the covers! I don't know why I sometimes hesitate to read a particular book, what I do find though is that once I have bought or borrowed a book, if I do not read it within the week, it tends to find its way onto my shelves and languish until I take pity on it!!! ;-) is more probable - I am desperate for something to read and just cannot find anything that I fancy right there and then!!

Funny money

We don't handle a great deal of money in the Library, but we do get some as we deal with money for photocopying, printing, interlibrary loans, old books for sale - that kind of thing!

Unfortunately we get a few foreign coins, even some that are no longer in circulation like the French Franc! Anyway - we had a rather mangled 20p coin other day - see this photo with a more normal one for comparison!

All of us in the library had a good look at it and could not work out whether someone had taken a a hammer to it or whether it was perhaps a forged coin!! Incidentally, the better looking coin is 1982 and the mangled one is 1983 so, surely, it cannot be like this due to simple wear and tear. Well, the only thing that will solve the issue is whether or not the cashiers will accept the coin when we bank the money!

By the way - this is actually my 100th post - yay!! (what a silly thing to get excited about!!)

Monday, 17 December 2007


The secret Santa scheme that I joined a few days ago through LibraryThing closed on Friday at 3am (10pm Eastern Time in the USA) and so I am now awaiting my surprise book (or two) - I don't know what you can get for just under £10 ($20).

On Thursday though, I discovered who I had picked to be the Secret Santa to - it was a woman from Houston in Texas and I was given a link to her LibraryThing profile and catalogue so that I could find out a little bit about her and what she liked to read. Her comment on the SecretSanta page said
my tastes run to just about anything between two covers. I especially enjoy fantasy and romance these days, but would enjoy a good nonfiction book too. I went, I had a look at her catalogue and was quite surprised to see how much we had in common when it comes to reading (I understand that the people at LibraryThing deliberately matched some people with similar tastes and some people with wildly varying tastes!) and so it was actually quite easy to find a few books that I thought my Santee would like.

Although I found it easy to pick the books, it was actually quite hard to find books that would fit under the limit of $20 and would be readily available via Amazon. I created all number of permutations until in the end I decided to go for The Villa by Nora Roberts and The Belgariad by David Eddings - this did come to 20 cents over my limit, but I hope that LibraryThing will be able to accept that. If not, I offered them the suggestion of replacing The Belgariad with A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay.

Of course, this all presumes that my Santee has not read any of these books - neither of them were in her LibraryThing catalogue. Personally, I have not listed EVERYTHING I have read (or owned) in my personal catalogue, yet it does give a good idea of what my tastes are like.

In any case, I hope that I have chosen well and that my Santee enjoys those books! It was rather enjoyable to pick out some books for someone that I know appreciates books. This whole idea by LibraryThing is a really good one - it manages to combine the virtual social network with reality in an intriguing way.

I think that there were just over 200 people taking part in this secret Santa and so I wonder how many people will be surprised (pleasantly or not!), how many will be introduced to unfamiliar authors, how many will be disappointed because they already have that book, how many will be worrying that they have chosen the wrong book(s)!!!

I am hoping that there will be a way to give some sort of feedback - I certainly think that someone will start a new chat topic going in the Talk section of LibraryThing - "what book did you get and did you like it?" If no-one does, then I will, but I would be most surprised if no-one started that conversation!


Well...the very last Parkinson show was on television last night. I don't normally watch Parkinson, but I certainly had to catch the very last one (although there is a round-up next week of the best of Parkinson) and wished that I had watched it more previously.

Anyway, Billy Connolly was on first and he had me in stitches!! I loved the image of the "bean-bagged" adult - where said adult is stranded on a bean-bag and just can't get up. Other guests on the show were David Attenborough, Michael Caine, David Beckham, Peter Kay (complete with party kit!), Dame Judy Dench and Dame Edna Everage, oh and Jamie Cullum played on piano.

I don't quite know why I didn't really watch Parkinson before, but then most chat shows don't really appeal to me. Then again, I think that Parkinson must be a class above all the usual stuff on the telly! Quite what old Parky will do now I don't know!! All I do know is that I think that for anyone else trying to do the same thing the show will be very hard to live up to!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Christmas Trees

As I said yesterday, I have some Christmas Trees to show you!! There are a bunch of photo's which is why I didn't add this topic to yesterdays post (besides, I wanted to leave something to talk about today!)

Anyway - at work, we are not allowed to pin/stick/fix anything to the walls, so we try and make do with what we have and when I first started at the library a few years ago, there was just one very teeny tiny tree - it looked like this.

Which I was never very impressed with, but it did the job! Then in 2006 my library merged with another and they brought with them a very respectable little tree, we decorated it in red and green this year....

We also acquired two additional trees this year - one because Asda was donating a bunch of red or gold trees to the hospital and we decided to snaffle a gold one if we could....
I also decided that we really need a big, relatively speaking, tree to go in the main part of the library....

Then I put up my own tree at home, and of course, this is the best one!!!

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Elf Yourself!

I was going to blog my Christmas Trees today (yes plural!), but then Mum sent me an email with a link to a little program of me and my brothers being "elfed"!!

This little program was first spotted by Marielle and that has made the rounds. If you have not come across this before, it is a program that allows you to put headshots of whomever you like onto the bodies of dancing elves - really rather funny - see us lot here!

Friday, 14 December 2007

Radio Times

I have just discovered that the Christmas Edition of the Radio Times is now available to buy!! I love the Christmas edition, it really seems to signal the fact that Christmas is not so far away now! (but then again it feels as though I have been saying that for ages now, so perhaps Christmas is further away than I think!!)

I shall certainly be buying it as soon as I can, although in recent years there just doesn't seem to be much on - nothing that I want to watch anyway!! Perhaps I am getting to be just that little bit more discriminating in what I watch on television, I will still get the RT though and see what is on, not that I have many channels myself - I still only have five channels!!

I certainly remember poring over the RT as a child and circling everything I wanted to watch, which probably amounted to several hours viewing each day!! In any case I never got round to watching everything as there was usually too many other, more exciting, things going on!

Thursday, 13 December 2007


It has been rather cold lately, and although I clearly have nothing to complain about when compared with the freezing weather in America that is causing havoc at the moment, it is still cold! Yes, yes, I know it is winter and therefore should be cold, but I always seem to find that just how cold it is takes me by surprise!

When I leave for work in the morning, my car is sometimes all frozen and needs defrosting before I can go anywhere! Fortunately, I have a heated back AND front windscreen, so I just get in the car, turn all the blowers on and go back outside to scrape off the side windows and by the time I have done those, my back screen just needs a little scraping and I can use the wipers on the front!

Great eh!? I don't think that I will ever now consider a car if it does not have a heated front windscreen!! My neighbour gets his wife to boil some up some water and then that gets poured all over the car - I am not certain that this is good for the glass as I understand that sudden (and extreme!) temperature changes can shatter glass.

The downside of my car is that the knob on the gearstick is metal!! So, I have to wear gloves if I don't want cold hands! I don't suppose that there is ever a car that is just perfect, there is always something that niggles or isn't quite as it should be!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Book Challenge - Sword of God

While it's fresh in my mind, I want to comment on Sword of God by Chris Kuzneski.

I read it, but only really because I had to as I listed it as one of my book challenge books! I didn't feel gripped by it as I felt that the writing was a bit mechanical and formulaic, besides which, the story was very familiar - I am sure that I have read another book that is all about preventing a terrorist attack on Mecca.

Mind you, this book is the third one about the same characters - Payne and Jones, so perhaps I should have read the others before reading this one, but there wasn't any indication on the back of the book that it was the third one, otherwise I don't think that I would have picked it up in the first place!! I mean, why read the third book first!!!?

Anyway, the book wasn't a page-turner and nor has it induced me to want to dig up the others. I remember getting hooked on the Clive Cussler books about Dirk Pitt - those were page-turners and I think that I now have all of his books!!

Secret Santa Presents

How many of you take part in Secret Santa schemes? I would think that this is more typically done at work, particularly when there are a lot of people in the department. We are actually doing one where I work although I have to say that there aren't that many of us in the office!! But this was a good compromise between the two sets of staff that although we are now one group, we used to work for two different libraries and so had two different traditions.

Anyhow, that is not the Secret Santa that I really wanted to talk about! What I really wanted to talk about is a Secret Santa scheme that is being run by LibraryThing (if you haven't heard me mention LibraryThing - it's a place where you can catalogue your own book collection and socialise with other book lovers online!). I have been a member of LibraryThing for a while now, but am not very diligent in cataloguing my own books, but that is probably because I get enough of that at work!

And still, I digress, so...LibraryThing are running SantaThing!! Which is an online Secret Santa for book lovers! If you are a member of LibraryThing then you can join in, you can offer yourself up for participation or nominate another person to be the recipient; so basically you sign up and pay $25, closing date is 12 noon US Eastern Time on Thursday 13th December, so you'd better hurry up if you want to take part!

Once you find out who you are being the Secret Santa for (by the way, I should say that all identifying detail is only held by LibraryThing and is not revealed to others) you can then have a look at their personal catalogue and try and find a book for up to $20 (the other $5 of the $25 that you paid earlier is for delivery!) that they would appreciate and tell LibraryThing to order this through Amazon.

Unfortunately this is only open to American, Canadian or British LibraryThing members, but I am sure that the LibraryThing team will put their collective brains into organising something a bit more comprehensive for next year.

Well, as you might guess, I have decided to take part! I have paid my $25 and am now waiting to hear who I am to be Secret Santa for! I am also quite eager to see what kind of book might land on my doorstep, hopefully before Christmas!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Bruges in pictures!

I mentioned that I had some pictures didn't I? Well, here are a few - a very few!

An ice-wizard....

An ice-elf (?)....

On board the ice-ship....

Buying some chocolate!....

Didn't I say that the ice-sculptures were amazing!! And those pictures are just a very tiny part of the whole display!

By the way - you see that pile of boxes to the left of Mum - don't worry, she wasn't buying that much!! Those are just the display boxes so that people can see what sizes the boxes are. There is a nice story to this chocolate shop though...Mum had just four Euros left and so she plonked those on the counter and asked what she could get for that! The man asked Mum what she wanted and she said he duly picked a selection and started weighing it up.

At first the bag came to just over six Euros, so he took one or two out, and then it came to just over five Euros and he shrugged and with a wink said that he couldn't be bothered to take any more out!! Good value for money there!!

Monday, 10 December 2007

Book Challenge - Woman in White

(see my earlier post about the Book challenge if you want to know what a Book Challenge is all about!!)

If you have never read the Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, then I strongly recommend that you do so! I am not a fan of the classics as I find them quite hard going; even though I do feel that I should read more of the classics rather than the modern novels that I prefer! This book was definitely the exception and I really did enjoy it.

Woman in White...well...what can I say; it is a mystery that is written from the viewpoint of several of the characters (not in a jumpy and confusing way) and really gives you a full sense of what is going on without revealing the mystery until the author is ready to let you in on it!!

I found this a very engaging and enjoyable book and am very pleased that I have read it!! All the characters are well portrayed in that I could really imagine what they were like. What did wind me up about the book though was the occasional portrayal of the "weaker sex" and it did drive me mad, but then you have to remember that this book was published in 1860 when women were expected to defer to their menfolk (!) and so this attitude is understandable, but it still drives me mad!

I am now reading the third book in my challenge - Sword of God - I should be posting about it by the end of this week.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Second Advent Sunday

Christmas is getting closer!!!!

Today, Mum and I are having a quiet day after yesterdays travelling - it is still quite a nasty day outside - all bluster and rain, so we have decided to simply stay indoors and enjoy a nice warm Sunday at home!

Saturday, 8 December 2007


It has been one very long day today!! Mum and I have only just got back from Bruges, yes you read that right! We were in Belgium today! One of Mum's colleagues organises a regular Christmas shopping trip every year and last year they went to Bruges, and clearly they went to Bruges again this year!

Unfortunately the weather was somewhat against us as it was very wet, we all got rather soaked, but nevertheless we had a great time. The day started with us having to get up before 6am in order to make sure that we were in time for the coach, which left at 6:45pm and everybody was advised that coach would NOT wait.

The journey there and back went very well indeed, we made our trains and were not held up anywhere by traffic, so that was all very smooth, we stopped at a supermarket in France and bought far too much wine!

Bruges isn't all that far away, much to my surprise! We arrived just after 12 noon and then had the whole of the afternoon (until the coach picked us up at 4:30pm) to explore the town. Like I said, it was a rather wet and horrible day, so we weren't really able to see as much as we would have liked, but Bruges is most definitely worth a second, longer visit.

The first thing that we did once we got off the coach was to go and see the Ice Sculptures - this is apparently an annual display of ice carving. And - wow - it was just amazing (will post some photos when I download them!) - there were hedgehogs, toadstools, the most enormous carvings of wizards and other fantastic beings. There were even two slides!! One within the shell of a snail (for children) and one much larger one for anyone who dared and I did! It was actually a slide-tunnel, so as you were sliding down you were totally surrounded by ice - it was just incredible.

It was very very cold though, so Mum and I didn't stay that long. We headed for the town centre and found some lunch in what we'd call a simple cafe and would perhaps be rather looked down on if it was in the UK, but there is a very different cafe style on the continent and this little cafe was clearly very popular with the locals and Mum and I had a Belgian beer and a simple meal.

Thus fortified we then set off to explore the town as much as we could in the little time we had and the horrible rain. Needless to say, we didn't see that much, but I am definitely going back again - for a long weekend next year perhaps.

However, we did make sure that we bought plenty of chocolate!! I also bought some Christmas decorations and a lovely candle holder, so I am very satisfied with the trip! We were extremely tired when we got home though!!

So....I am now off to bed!!

Friday, 7 December 2007

Cookies and quizzes

I was reading a blog this morning and found that this particular blogger had done one of the many daft quizzes that you find on the internet and discovered that she was a Chocolate Chip Cookie!! Of course, I had to take this quiz and I have found that I am......

A Jam Cookie

On the outside, you project a straight-laced, innocent vibe.
But on the inside, you're complex, exotic, and full of flavor.

Hmmmmmmm - I wonder how seriously I should be taking this!! ha ha. I am quite sure that Freud (et al!) would have a field day with all these internet quizzes, just what would they think of them!! There are ones that say which character you are in a television drama (done that one - see earlier post!!) , ones that say which book you are (should do that one at some point!), that say which sweetie, animal, furniture - you name it, I bet it's out there!

And by the way - Happy Birthday to my Mum!!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Advent blogging

Well, I seem to have written something every day so far this Advent, I wonder if I can keep this up!! I am reasonably confident that I'll find something to say every day even if it ends up being just pure waffle!!

And today is no exception!! Would you believe that there is apparently some discussion regarding Santa's weight? Apparently he should slim down in order to set a good example to children!! There are a couple of people blogging about this here and here, so I wont go into any great detail, except to say "oh for goodness sake!" He just wouldn't be Santa Claus if weren't all cuddly! The next thing I know is that they will be saying that Santa really shouldn't leave presents under the tree because that would be breaking and entering!!!

Anyway, speaking of everybody stumped when they get the question "what would you like for Christmas?" I always struggle to think of something that I would really like and yet I ask the same question of others!! Some people are quite happy with the same theme year in and year out - I am thinking of you and your trains Dad!!! ;-)

But, what does one say when faced with that question? Immediately list all the things that they would really really like but no-one can afford? Or simply fall back on the staple answer, you know the one - "surprise me!" The thing is that I would really rather be surprised as if I knew what I wanted then I am really quite likely to go and get it for myself if I want it that badly!!

Then again, perhaps I wouldn't buy it for myself if it is a little bit extravagant, and by that I mean not necessarily expensive, but something that you wouldn't buy for yourself but would love as a gift. And, wouldn't you know it, I can't think of a single example!!!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007


I think that I have now cracked the problem (as far as it is possible to crack!) of oversleeping in the morning!

I had been without my shake-awake (S-A) alarm clock for the last few weeks as I had managed to leave it at my brothers house and have been relying on the Lumie clock plus my bedside light timer to wake me up.

Which did work, but then my shake-awake turned up yesterday (Thanks Marielle!) and so I used it this morning, in combination with the Lumie and the bedside light (sledgehammer to crack a nut perhaps!?).

The thing is that the light wakes me up gradually, and the S-A goes off at a particular time (with a snooze button of eight minutes) and I have discovered that what it is is that the S-A is slightly more violent and demands that I get up, plus with the Lumie I wake up so gradually that I don't really have any idea what time it is. I know when the S-A goes off because I set that time and then I know that when it goes off again, it is eight minutes later - which I think wakes me up better because I am far more aware of what time it is and how much time I have left to do all the things I need to do before leaving the house!

Did any of that make sense!!? It did to me when I was thinking about it this morning!

By the way, anyone that doesn't know what a Shake-awake is (and why on earth doesn't she get an alarm clock like all normal people!?) - it is an alarm clock that goes under the pillow and vibrates to wake me up. As I sleep without my hearing aids I have great trouble hearing ANYTHING during the night, which is how Phoebe managed to cause havoc in the house a few weeks ago when she brought a bird in!!

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Infestation of lights!

Christmas lights are gradually taking over the village!! First they appear in one window and then another; and before you know it, the whole street is infested!!! ;-)

I do love it though - it really does brighten up that dark and gloomy drive home from work in the dark!

Some houses are quite restrained and just have a single set of lights, whether that's a set of candles in the window, a single Santa on the roof, or some icicles hanging from the eaves. But others....well...there is one just round the corner from me...and they have taken up every single bit of space that they could possibly find.

The house is covered in red, blue, yellow, green (and all the rest of it!) and it does look very colourful, if a little bit ostentatious. When you come round the corner you just cannot miss this blazing tribute to Christmas, I just wonder what their electricity bill will look like in January!

I don't put lights on the outside of my house, but I usually put a stand of 'candles' in the window and set that on a timer so that they are on by the time I come home. It really is quite uplifting to come home to house that it lit from within - very welcoming.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Card making

You should have seen my lounge yesterday!! It looked as though a craft shop had set up stall - there was stuff all over the place! Stamps on the table, punches on the coffee table, pens on the floor, paper on just about every surface available!

And this wasn't even for my own Christmas cards!! A friend of mine had been having trouble finding Christmas cards that she liked, so she asked if I would make some. Well, that was a few weeks ago, and as I am busy next weekend, I thought that I had better get on and make some!!

Now that I have a digital camera, I can keep a record of the cards that I make which saves me from having to keep one card as a template for future cards! Unfortunately I have not uploaded the photos yet, so I can't show you any of them (besides, you might be getting one of them, so perhaps I wont put them up at all!!)

I only actually made five cards; but found about 10 others in my Christmas box that I remembered at the last minute, so Bridget will have plenty to choose from. The reason that I only made five....? It's not the lack of equipment, but the lack of inspiration!! I subscribe to two card making magazines, but still seem unable to pick one or two ideas and just go with them.

Having said that, I am very out of practice at this business of card-making, I haven't made any new ones for about a year I think. I really must get back into this hobby as it is great fun, but I find that the ideas flow only when I am actively involved, as my creative side just stalls otherwise!

Sunday, 2 December 2007


Why oh why do things have to make life difficult!! I was all chuffed with myself cos I was actually up, washed and dressed by 10am - on a Sunday too!! Then I had to go to the bank to put a cheque in - I had deliberately left it until Sunday because I didn't want to go to town Saturday (and face all those shoppers!?).

So, I walked to the High Street and tried to put the cheque in via the hole-in-the-wall, but there was no option to do that, which surprised me as you used to be able to do that. Anyway, I did my Sainsburys shopping then went home and hopped in the car to go into town proper and put it in the big branch, cos I remembered seeing that they had specific machines that would accept money coming in.

Then my troubles started!! I got to the bank, filled in a form and went to pay the money in. The first machine was out-of-order, but the second was fine so I went through the rigmarole required only to find that I had to put the cheque and form in an envelope first. But could I find an envelope....? I looked all round the bank (it's one of those where you can get into the lobby area) and could not find anything. A kindly lady said that she had trouble finding one too, but that the shop next door had a pile of envelopes (I presume that this must have happened before), so I went into the shop on the left - no envelopes, so I went into the shop on the right - no envelopes!!!

Finally, I went to Smiths and bought packet of envelopes that I really have no need of, stuffed the form and cheque into one of them and went back to the machine and finally got rid of it!!!! But dearie me - what a pain in the neck!! And I was all calm this morning! I will try and regain some of that calm and enjoy the rest of the day!

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Christmas Meme

Given how much I just love Christmas, I have decided to set up a meme of my own - all about Christmas! There are five questions to this meme (random number I suppose!!)

1. What is your most enduring Christmas memory? (Note that this could be either good or bad!!) I think that there is no particular moment of Christmas that stands out for me, but if pushed, I would have to say it is that childhood moment when I woke up (after taking what felt like ages to fall asleep) and then felt around the bottom of my bed with my feet to feel the reassuring weight of the stocking lying on top of my duvet.

2. Do you have a favourite piece of Christmas music? I am already starting to listen to my collection of Christmas CDs - they range from children's song to classical music to Christmas carols, not to mention those crooners like Bing Crosby! How can I pick a favorite?! I think that this would have to be "We three kings of Orient..." I love the rhyme and rhythm of this song.

3. Do you stick to the old family traditions? Well, I think that our traditions have evolved over the years, for instance, we used to open our presents after the breakfast table was cleared up, washed up and put away, then as we got older we decided that we could be a bit more restrained and would wait until the Grand Dinner had been dispensed with (of course, this meant that Mum could take part in the Christmas present opening without having to dash back and forth to the kitchen!). So...on thinking about it, I don't think that we have any traditions that, if dropped, I'd cry foul! If anything - we are creating new ones - I now make Christmas Crackers (or bombs - given the weight of them!) and I am sure that we continue to create new ones as the youngest of the family grow up!

4. What makes your mouth water at Christmas time!? For me, this would have to be turkey gravy!! Of course, all the other goodies always get me going, let me list them (!) sausages in bacon, marzipan, chocolate on the tree, chocolate coins - any more chocolate!?!? I actually think that is rather a sedate list - what does yours look like!?

5. How soon do you put the Christmas tree up and when do you take it down? There is a neighbour across the road that put their tree up about a week ago, which I think is too soon, but then I would not leave it until Christmas Eve either - I need to have some time to enjoy the tree! This year, though, I think that I will be putting it up on the weekend of the Third Advent (14th-15th) and then I expect that I will take it down either New Years Day or the weekend after that. (As long as it comes down by the twelfth day of Christmas!!)

So, there you - my first meme of my very own! I don't quite know to 'tag' people, so apologies if I have done it wrong, but I have chosen to tag the following people because I like their blogs!
  1. Santa (of course!)
  2. Matt at My Indecision is Final
  3. Melody at Mel's Reading Corner
  4. Margaret at BooksPlease
  5. Kimberley at CraftyMe

And of course, anyone else that would like take part in this meme - feel free!! Just let me know that you are doing this so that I can find out all about you and your Christmas; you can either put your answers in your blog or just add your answers to my blog via the comments bit!