Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Written Word

The Little Old Lady who Broke All the Rules
By Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

I have just finished reading this fantastic book by Swedish author Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg. I found it when I was looking around a small book shop in Grasmere. When I was younger I read 'Harry and the Wrinklies' by Alan Temperely - a fabulous book itself, albeit a child's novel - and was struck by its blurb, which was very similar.

The story features 79 year old Martha Anderson who, along with her cronies, is bored with life at her retirement home. She longs for a bit of adventure and feels that life in a prison would ultimately be better than at Diamond house, her current residency. She plots many crimes with her friends which result in some fantastic, fun-filled adventures. Some of the plots within the story are a little far fetched but I really enjoyed the read and would look in to more of Ingelman-Sundberg's novels in the future!

To the Lakes and Back

Summer 2013, what happy memories.
I am afraid this is a late post but with Summer 2014 on the way I am currently remembering how fantastic last summer was. After graduating, and securing my first full-time job for September, I spent the months of June, July and August with my family and friends taking in the beautiful sights of Coniston, Conwy and Lake Garda.

Early evening on the jetty
I first went for a week away with my family and a friend to a little caravan site on the lake of Coniston. It is such a picturesque place and the sun appeared towards the end of our visit. I will remember this holiday as one of pure relaxation. We spent the days on walks around the countryside and the little villages around Coniston and the evenings sat in the sun eating fish and chips on the shore. Heaven! I have included a few pictures below.

A boat off on an evening float
Overlooking a Wedding on the far side of Coniston
After returning from Coniston, when the weather was fantastic, I then went camping with some friends in Conwy. We stayed for a week on a camp site just outside of Conwy, which was very quiet at the time. Whilst there we went white water rafting, quad bike trekking and gorge walking. All activities were great fun and I would recommend them to anyone.

Towards the end of the summer I went on a family holiday to Lake Garda in Italy. We went for a friends' wedding and then spent two weeks there. We hadn't been on a family holiday for a long time and were all looking forward to it. My parents travelled up there with the caravan, something my dad wasn't struck on, and I and my two sisters flew with some friends a few days later. The wedding was held in the stunning port of Salo and we had a wonderful time. We also visited Verona, Venice and Brescia during our stay. Italy is a fantastic place and I hope that we have the chance of going again soon.

In Brescia

View from the camp site

In Verona

Juliet's Wall

After our ferry trip


All aboard

Our ride upon a gondola

Isola del Garda
Summer 2013 was filled with fun, love and laughter. One I will remember for years to come and it would not have been as brilliant without my loving family and friends (and the weather!)

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Written Word

The Daphne DuMaurier Collection

Last year my mother bought and read Jamaica Inn, she enjoyed it so much that she thought I should give it a try, and I did. What a fantastic read! The novel is full of suspense, thrills, romance, action and plenty of adventure, from the beginning of the very first chapter you are thrown into dark world of Mary Yellan.

'It was a cold grey day in late November. The weather had changed overnight, when a backing wind brought a granite sky and a mizzling rain with it, and although it was now only a little after two o'clock in the afternoon the pallor of a winter evening seemed to have closed upon the hills, cloaking them in mist'.'

One of the great things I find with Daphne DuMaurier's books is the description which help to immerse the reader fully. The story follows Mary Yellan who follows her mother's dying request to join her Aunt Patience at Jamaica Inn. When Mary arrives, after a depressing journey across the bleak moors of Cornwall, she finds a shadow of her Aunt Patience and her brutal husband, Joss Merlyn. Before long, Mary realises that dark things are happening at Jamaica Inn and soon she is unwillingly drawn into her uncle's dark misgivings whilst drawn to a man she cannot trust. 

I read Jamaica Inn while holidaying in the Lake District and it was a book that I could not put down. I do not want to ruin the story for others but towards the middle of the novel the atmosphere is so tense that you almost imagine being part of the story. 

 After reading Jamaica Inn my mother went and bought another of Daphne DuMaurier's famed novels, Frenchman's Creek. Set, as many of DuMaurier's stories are, in Cornwall this tells the tale of Lady Dona who finds herself bored by her the pomp and splendour on her life. She retreats back to the old family estate in Cornwall where she meets the mysterious and handsome French pirate Jean Aubrey. Many consider this story to be the most romantic of DuMaurier's novels and I would agree. Compared to Jamaica Inn the action is just as compelling and the description as fantastic as ever. Another story well worth the read.

The last of Daphne DuMaurier's books that I have read recently is My Cousin Rachel. Another novel set in Cornwall but this time told by a male character called of Philip Ashley. Philip, orphaned at an early age, is raised by his older cousin Ambrose who delights in having Philip as his heir. However, when Ambrose travels to Italy he falls in love and marries before dying suddenly. His wife, a distant cousin called Rachel visits England to speak to Philip and see Ambrose's grand house. Philip, who is suspicious of Rachel before he meets her, unwittingly falls for her. However, as times goes on he finds himself confused by her actions and his feelings towards her, suspecting that she had a hand in Ambrose's death.

'They used to hang men at Four Turnings in the old days. Not any more, though.'

I bought this book after reading some reviews. Although not my favoured of all three DuMaurier books, this story still carries a lot of enchantment and suspense. Throughout the novel I found myself changing opinions of both Rachel and Philip, questioning their relationship and actions. One review commented on the similarity between this novel and DuMaurier's most famous book 'Rebecca'. The tale is moody and brooding reflecting the character's who in turn are unpredictable and mysterious.

All three novels are great reads with plenty of suspense, drama, thrills and spills, mysterious characters, compelling plot lines and topped off with stunning, imaginative description. I've had a bit of a Daphne DuMaurier year through reading the novels above and watching Hitchcock's adaptations of Rebecca and The Birds. I also caught an ITV version of 'The Scapegoat', another novel by DuMaurier that is next on my reading list. You can watch adaptations of both Jamaica Inn and My Cousin Rachel. I have not seen the latter but if you were to watch Jamaica Inn I would go with the television adaptation starring Jane Seymour which is much more true to the original story.

Have you read any books by Daphne DuMaurier? What are your thoughts?

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Mellow Motown

A beautiful mellow song for the most relaxing day of the week; unless you have been in work or are stressing about the coming week. Although, if you are worried or stressed or tired this song is perfect for a relaxing listen.

Most definitely my favourite song and one that will always remind me of my beloved Nanny Jean.


Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me) by The Temptations

Friday, 12 April 2013

Family Film Night

Unfortunately we didn't have Family Film Night this week due to work commitments, so I thought I would share one that we watched a few weeks back, a film chosen by myself.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

This is another classic film, set in and filmed during the 1960s, focusing on the (then) controversial subject of interracial marriage. Interestingly, six months before the film was released, interracial marriage was illegal in 17 US states.  

I am a fan of Sidney Poitier and watched this film first during my own Sidney Poitier film marathon. To briefly surmise, the film tells of a young white woman, Joanna (Houghton), who has a whirlwind romance with Dr. John Prentice (Poitier) whom she meets while on holiday. The two plan to marry and fly to San Francisco to break the news to her parents (Tracy and Hepburn). She struggles to comprehend how her liberal parents, who brought her up to respect and value other races as equals, will not accept John as her husband. The story follows Joanna's parents as they come to terms with their daughter's choice of husband and deal with the effects of an impending interracial marriage.

The reason I really enjoyed this film was because of the depiction of the characters. Joanna's parents, who are shocked at the pairing, are not evil, racist characters. They are believable parents who recognise the difficulties their daughter and her fiance will face. Considering this film was released in 1967, during the height of the civil rights, the topic focused on highlights the problems faced by many during this era. The plot is comedic in parts but also thought provoking and at times teary. The characters are portrayed with feeling and emotion, ensuring that the parts are believable and sympathetic. All in all, a fantastic film and well worth the watch!

Here is a quote from the film that I absolutely adore. It is when John is talking to his father, who also disagrees with the union.
"Let me tell you something. I owe you nothing! If you carried that bag a million miles, you did what you're supposed to do! Because you brought me into this world. And from that day you owed me everything you could ever do for me like I will owe my son if I ever have another."

I have been using this quote ever since with my parents! ;)


Wednesday, 10 April 2013


Success isn't measured by what we achieve, but how we achieve!