One of my favourite bloggers, Emily from Chatting with the Sky, has a lovely blog hop linky that I like so much, I’ve decided to come up with a British version with a slightly different name.
It goes like this: share anything you’ve discovered or learnt in the past month, no matter how random, crazy, seemingly trivial or profound. If it’s something that others would benefit from (like a great book or techie trick), or something that shines a little bit more light on your life, then add it. I love sharing things I’ve found with others, so this is right up my street.Here we go:
1. Cucumber in G&T! When out at a lovely seafood restaurant, I was served a Gin & Tonic with a slice of cucumber instead of lemon. At first I thought “Hang on, is that cucumber in there? Where’s the lemon?”, but it was subtly sublime. Go on, give it a go!
2. Frozen Chicken Tagine from Waitrose or Ocado.com. I rarely shop in Waitrose owing to the price tag, but sometimes it’s just the ticket when you want to buy a few luxuries. (I also find it incredibly soothing if I’m in an harassed consumer state of mind. Whenever I set foot into its calm, beautiful and pleasant surroundings, everything seems right with the world…) Anyway, I discovered a marvellous take on a ready meal this month: Frozen Chicken Tagine from their Frozen range. It comes in big bag, and you just slowly reheat as much or as little of it as you like in a pan. At £5.99 its a bargain, as the full 1.2kg feeds at least 5 people. They also do a risotto, paella, thai curry and biryani (latter not so good). You could easily fool any guest you’d slaved over a stove that day making it when instead you were writing your latest blog post. Perfect.
3. Onto the subject of books… Marina Lewycka, is my favourite novelist at the moment, and wrote the brilliant and inimitably named A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. Her latest novel, Various Animals Alive & Dead, is similar to her others in that it’s full of quirky characters, well written, and funny. It’s not as good as Tractors or Two Caravans but its definitely a good read. She manages to strike that balance of entertaining you whilst also offering a serious commentary on the state of modern Britain. This time, it’s the banking system.
4. Who Switched Off My Brain? by Dr Caroline Leaf has to be the most enlightening book I’ve read for a while. Before you smile wryly and think it’s about what motherhood does to our brains, it’s not actually anything to do with that. No, it’s about how our inner thought life affects our physical well being; that our thoughts, positive and negative, have a direct effect on our health. Before you throw yourself on the floor in horror, this is actually a very positive hopeful book. Her message is that we can change how our thoughts have affected our whole selves through changing our thought life/habits, and freeing from what she calls toxic thinking and emotions.
A small word of warning: Dr Leaf is a Christian and she refers to scripture throughout the book, but it’s not been written specifically for a Christian audience necessarily. She’s a neuro-scientist and approaches the subject from a scientific angle. I think most people will find this at best a very helpful book, or at least, an interesting read. It’s essentially backing up with science the truth of ‘the power of positive thinking’. Also, she’s rather adept at self-promotion and a good marketeer but don’t let that put you off. She’s South African with a lot of American cultural influence, which has influenced the way she presents herself. But the essence of what she has to say is very profound. My husband, who has struggled with depression for years, has found it very useful. Go to www.drleaf.com for more.
5. Hitchin Lavender Farm, in Hertfordshire, is a gem of a place just up the A1/M from me which recently opened its doors to the sniffing, snipping public. Set up by a couple with small children, this is a working farm that opens its doors to the public in the summer, where you can run up and down the dreamy lanes of lavender, cut a bag full of your own to take home, or just drink in the sheer magnificent sight of the purple haze. All for only £4 an adult. Kids are free. They also sell some lovely bath products perfect for Christmas (oops, did I say that word?!) and have a teashop with THE most divine lavender cup cakes. It’s a bit late for this year, but head over next year if you’re passing.
I never knew that in the Victorian era, Hitchin was a major centre for lavender farming owing to its dry climate – who’d have thought?
6. Pembrokeshire coast. Those of you who read my previous post ‘A month of (Silent) Sundays’ will know that we discovered the coast of Pembrokeshire in South Wales for the first time this year. Stunning, stunning place, full of sandy beaches, rugged cliffs and… not too many tourists. That’s the best bit. Ok, it might have a tendency to dampness, but if you’re lucky, or bring the right clothing, you’ll love it. Cornwall without the crowds.
7. 1,000 Dot to Dot book by Thomas Pavitte
My son (and daughter) fell upon this whilst we were browsing one of my favourite shops in London, the art/book shop in Tate Modern (Warning: do NOT go there if you intend to spend nothing!). Being all of 6 going on 7, and being a boy, he is extremely prone to falling in love with something and wanting it NOWWW. And that ‘something’ being an extremely tricky, designed for adults, dot to dot book, I didn’t really pay much attention to this particular ‘Please can I???’. But after my daughter also pleaded, and it occurred to me how it might keep them quiet for more than 5 mins, I capitulated. Boy am I glad! They LOVE it. So much so, I can’t stop him from doing them – in fact, he’s still in bed joining up those dots and its 9.45pm… better dash!
Here’s Elvis that he was working on last night, not quite finished (it’s A3 sized paper):
8. Last but not least, I realised quite how poor my self control was as I managed to maintain a regular daily consumption of alcohol and cake/ice cream throughout the entire 6 week holiday period. Crikey, children don’t half make it hard to give up one’s treats…
So what have you discovered this August? If you don’t have a blog, no matter – tell us one or two discoveries in the comments section. If you do, join in with the blog hop linky and share your gems with others. Once you’ve signed up, check out others’ Discoveries and drop them a comment. Very exciting… it’s my first blog hop linky thingy ma jig…(shhh)