How to host a Royal Wedding in 10 easy steps

1. You need a couple, preferably a prince and a delightful girl, if she is a commoner all the better as it will tug at the heart strings of the nation and all those nations abroad.

2. If one of their Grandmothers is well known and has some connections, then you can pop round the corner to the local abbey, and then head back to her house where she has a balcony for you to look out on and big rooms to hold a couple of parties in.

3. Make sure you pick the right sort of guests, you will have to have the ones your parents (and even grandparents want) but you will be allowed some more down to earth well known people.  You might need to make sure they know it is a wedding and a happy event. You would think she would have at least worn something a bit more cheery, but I cannot deny it did look beautiful, even whilst pregnant and in them heels. 

If the choir does not turn up, make sure there is someone available to sing at a moments notice. I thought Sir Elton looked rather peaky? 

4. Make it an event for a nation. Ask the prime minister (if you know him or know someone who does) to gives us all the day off (apologies to those who because of the important work they do, cannot have the day off). Even better if the PM had not been so wasteful with his money and walked from his house to the abbey then perhaps his wife could have ironed her dress and worn a hat! Personal opinion, but I did not like this dress, and I understand it was Burberry. Still did not like it. 

5. Get a few photographers and if you have the chance perhaps get someone to video it for you, you can watch it back and relive it for years to come and so will your friends and family. Though I would stick with a well known company who has a good reputation.

6. Let people come and watch, join in the fun and see the pomp and circumstance, throw in a couple of bands, ask your Grandmother I think she knows a few? Horses, even if you are allergic and make use of symbols and flags.  But you might need some help in directing the traffic and the people. Just to make sure everyone is safe and has a good time.

7. Get a good dress, and remember that is all everyone will be talking about. If you can keep it a secret until the last minute even better, especially in this day. The dress was beautiful, so stylish, so elegant and I loved the long lace sleeves and the train was the perfect length. Her maid of honour, was in a very beautiful dress as well, but she made she sure that it was the bride who was stunning. 

8. Make sure the groom is well turned out and looked after by his best man, his brother might be a good choice? They looked rather an impish pair, and if anything Prince Harry looked more nervous than Prince William.

9. Everyone will want to see you kiss, apparently this seals the deal! I think for me when Catherine stepped out onto that balcony and said “wow” when she saw the crowds of well wishers – it summed up the whole day. 

10. And finally get used to using your new name, you cannot just simply be Mr and Mrs. Try Duke and Duchess of Cambridge see how you get on with that for a while. And remember you must answer to Her Royal Highness now and not Kate.

What a beautiful day, a beautiful couple and I wish them luck for the many years to come, and the many things they will face, they can now face it together. United. 


Swimming with Dolphins – Deborah Wright

Julia lives for her work as a hedge fund manager but this leaves her time for nothing else, literally nothing else. When she gets close to her boyfriend Ciaran, she pushes him away straight into the arms of her flatmate and best friend, Reece and then decides she still loves him.

When she loses her job, she is lost completely, with having nothing to aim for or achieve she sets about on making a list of ten things to do before she dies encouraged by her friend Reece and sets out around the world to try and fulfil these dreams before her money runs out or her very sensible controlled side takes over once again.

We follow Julia around the world, Venice, Sicily, Tokyo, New York, Las Vegas, India and Hawaii as she completes her list. Along the way she meets Luke and hops that he will be the person that finally helps her get over Ciaran, but then Reece turns up with Ciaran at the most inopportune moments and causes waves for Julia as she is trying to find herself on this journey as well trying to complete her list.

In  some ways this book is rather complex, there is much about the relationships of the four main characters, Julia, Reece, Luke and Ciaran but for me none of them jumped off the page and made themselves likeable to me. At times I wanted to shake Julia for being so uptight and felt that Reece was a toxic friend from the very beginning; I was proved right as the story progresses. Luke sweeps in and out of all their lives and he is as much as free spirit as Julia is controlled and contained. Ciaran was a bit of a wet weekend to be a knight in shining armour, although I cannot deny that he did have some availing qualities which helped Julia in her final quest of the last 3 things on her list.

Deborah Wright has obviously travelled and this is reflected throughout the book, the descriptions of all the places visited are captured not just idealistically and vividly but realistically as well. The places are more of a character than any of the actual characters themselves and this is what let the book down for me, that by the end I was actually irritated by it.  It can be pitched as a beach read, and a distraction from everyday life and if that is what you after then you can do wrong in picking up this book. If you want more, look elsewhere.

I really struggled to write this review, because of the irritation the book gave me; like a niggling pain you can live with it, but you will be glad when it finally goes away. Part of me did not want to be so condemning when the other reviews on Amazon were all 5 stars – I gave it 3 but actually 2 1/2 would have suited it better.  

The book reminded me of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, a “finding yourself” type of book. Even that book I did not find as enjoyable as all the hype that was put around it.  This book has made me reflect on why I find the book an irritation or perhaps it is the cynic in me about reading any book where people are trying to find themselves? Perhaps there is a person secretly trying to find themselves in me? Perhaps I am thinking just too deeply about it and I should admit that this was not one of my favourite reads so far for 2011. 


A Royal Pain – Rhys Bowen

This is the second book by Rhys Bowen featuring Lady “Georgie” Georgiana, who apart from being a single woman, feisty in her outlook and trying to make her way in the world is also thirty-fourth in line to the British Throne. With that comes some promises, Queen Mary is still trying to separate her first born son, David and that dreadful American woman Wallis Simpson. Georgie becomes involved again with another plot to distract David’s attention.

A Bavarian Princess is coming to London after being in a convent, a young girl Queen Mary feels it would be better for her to stay with Georgie, so she can learn something about the social niceties, English society and make sure she turns up at the same functions as David. Georgie cannot say no despite not having any staff and living in a couple of rooms in Rannoch House and eating boiled eggs! So Georgie embarks on something that resembles a farce trying to entertain a young girl who seemingly has one thing in mind – men!  Then trouble starts when a at a party someone falls to their death, a chance encounter with someone in Speakers Corner leads to a visit to a bookshop in a rather dodgy part of London, where the Princess stumbles across another body. Georgie does not know whether she is coming or going, and the Queen still insists that she put this princess in the way of David.

A rather fun book, building on the first in the series. Characters are back such as the care free, free loving Belinda, Darcy O’Mara who always turns up at the right time for Georgie as well as more of a feature of Georgie’s mother and her steadfast down to earth granddad who ends up becoming her butler as well as a detective.

This book made me chuckle in many places, especially the exploits of the Princess and her fascination of American gangster movies and calling everyone old broad, a fear that Georgie tries to expel from her just in case she says it to the Queen and at times I forgot I was even reading a book that was essentially a crime mystery. The romance is still there between Darcy O’Mara the Wild Irishman, who Georgie has, eyes for but cannot bring herself to succumb to his ways.  In the end all the little threads and plots are woven together into a climatic ending, where lives are put at risk, but who suffers?

I know some reviewers have baulked at the historical inaccuracies. There is no Lady Georgiana as 34th in line to throne, that honour at the point of this post is a Cassius Taylor, 15 year old grandchild of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. Although he will move further down the line if the impending nuptials present us with an issue!

David became Edward VIII for a short time and of course there was a Mrs Wallis Simpson and I would probably imagine that the Queen did try and do something regarding their forging relationship. 

There is a short reference towards the end of this book regarding the 6 year old Princess Elizabeth (The Queen) writing to Queen Mary, more than likely in some degree that happened. This is picked up more I believe in the next novel in the series Royal Flush.

History gives these books a sense of place and time, to be honest I can forgive slight inaccuracies because they are really only the background to what is a throughly good read! 


The Uncommon Reader – Alan Bennett

Reading is not so common.

Even the Queen does it!

Alan Bennett’s book The Uncommon Reader, is the story of her majesty who one day by chance stumbles across a Mobile Library, intrigued she goes aboard and in keeping with her well brought up duty, she borrows a book.

What then starts, is a plunge into reading, discovering authors, books and prose that had passed her by as she always believed that reading was a hobby. Obviously the Queen can read but all in the sense of duty and not for pleasure. Imagine not being able to read for pleasure?

Bennett’s humour then takes us through the journey of the Queen reading, ably assisted by Norman newly promoted from the palace kitchens until the day all advisers and advisers of the influential feel he is influencing the Queen too much and he must develop his career elsewhere. This however does not stop the Queen reading, and the advisers concoct varying methods to detract from this sudden voracity for reading.  Then the Queen decides that she wants to write and the advisers then have another battle to fight.

Excellent story, well written, humorous, as relevant now as it was when it was first published. It did make me wonder about the Queen because at the end of the day nobody knows what she thinks, she writes and even she reads? If you are a fan of reading, then this book is for you as you can relate to so many of the passages and remarks and it being a novella you can fit it in as soon as you can. A gem in fact a crown jewel!

There was so much I wanted to relay about this book, I would have just basically regurgitated the whole book out in the review. No point in that but I will share some observant passages by Bennett which basically sums up how I feel about reading.

…reading was, among other things, a muscle and one that she had seemingly developed

Now if I tell my personal trainer that I am exercising my muscles by reading, do you think I will get away with it? 

What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren’t long enough for the reading she wanted to do. 

I think this should also be one blog led to another and then more books were discovered!

Sometimes one has felt like a scented candle, sent in to perfume a regimes, or aerate a policy, monarchy these days just a government-issue deodorant. 

Think that sums up most governments, she must be using a lot of perfume at the moment! 

There are more passages, quips and lines but I know I am going to read the book again and discover more, so I will let others do that as well. 

Crafts · Cross Stitch

Easter Bunny

If you had wondered what happened to the cross stitching, well it is still happening, and I had been rather indulging in some little finishes. For some reasons this bunny is quite cute and now this is the second one I have stitched. The first one can be seen here. I had slowed down with the stitching because I have got caught knitting a chicken, more about that in a future post, but I am back trying to finish a Christmas themed picture!

So for Easter, here is the Easter Bunny with a lovely flower, a Daisy? or a Gerbera? It will be made into a card when I get myself in the making up mode!

I hope you all have a peaceful chocolate filled day though if it is hot either eat the chocolate quick or put it in the fridge!

Books · Witterings

Basically just more books!

Nothing I can say really apart from these are the latest additions to my book shelf! That is the trouble when I have time off work! These 7 books are gathered from various charity books shops and the top two from Linda Gillard who I have been in contact with regarding her wonderful book House of Silence. She offered to send me these two so I can read and enjoy. They are going to be ebooks probably by the end of the year. Linda, thank you and also for signing them.

So from the top down

Linda Gillard – Emotional Geology

Linda Gillard – Star Gazing

Veronica Henry – Wild Oats. I read The Beach Hut last year, and wanted to read some of her back catalogue as I was not sure about The Beach Hut. 

Stephen Fry – Moab is my Washpot. I have this is as an audio book, but I really cannot get into it in this format. I want to read it so when I saw the book I had to buy it. I do like Stephen Fry, think it is his intelligence seems to know no bounds!  

Suzzane Bulger – This Perfect World My cousin who reads a lot recommended this one to me, although she assumed I had read it! But I had not and I had already downloaded a sample to my kindle, and then spotted it in the charity shop! Excellent. 

Trisha Ashley – A Winter’s Tale. I am fast becoming addicted to Ashley’s novels! Trying to read all her back catalogue. 

Pauline McLynn – Better than a Rest I stumbled across McLynn a while ago in the library and loved her books and the witty writing. I realised a lot later that she was the same Pauline McLynn that was the actress. 

Now I need the time to read all these little gems that I have got, amongst the others that are spilling off the shelves!

My time off from work (do not worry mr bank manager I go back to work on Tuesday) also involves a visit to Waterstones (other book retailers available) and a peruse of their shelves. The peace and tranquility of the bookshop is something to beholden. Despite all the noise outside, for me it always seems so quiet. Like stepping through in to another world. Enough poeticising. I came away with some books, much to the delight of the lady who always seems to serve me in there, I am sure she thinks “oh good, here comes by Christmas Bonus”. I do like being served by this lady, I like familiarity in shops and also she loves books just as much as me and will always chat about new books and authors for me to read. I can probably imagine how her wages get spent. I hope this particular store is not effected by the cull that is going to be made on some Waterstones because profits are not as high.

I was fairly constrained for me I think because I had acquired so many in the last couple of weeks, the sensible part of me was reminding me that I have to pay the bills! But when it is 3 for 2 what can you do?

I tried to stick to new books and new authors on the 3 for 2. If I stick to actual books I am looking for, they are very rarely on any offer and you end up paying full price for them, frustrating when I know I can then get them cheaper on Amazon.

From top to bottom:

Kathleen Tessaro – The Debutante Secrets from the past help the present. 

Lesley Lokko – One Secret Summer I have recently read Bitter Chocolate and enjoyed it and wanted to see what else the author had written. 

Katherine Webb – The Unseen Just read The Legacy and enjoyed it, the second novel from this author promises to be better than the first. 

Jo Nesbo – The Redbreast There is a lot of push at the moment, for this author and sometimes I do not like being pushed into reading a book because it is the ‘current vogue’ to do so. However, this book was on offer for 99p providing I spent over £20. Enough said! 

Maggie O’Farell – The Hand that First Held Mine Again, this has been popping up on blogs etc I have been reading, and having read a few pages on my Kindle it piqued enough of my interest to want to read the book!

Anjali Joseph – Saraswati Park Near the front of the store, cover caught my eye, the premise looks good, set in Bombay, the first couple of pages read well. Sometimes it is just worth taking a risk. 

Monica McInerney – At Home with The Templetons  I have read this author before and reviewed on Amazon before I started this blog. This is her latest novel. 

So there you go, my haul! Can I get help for all this excessive book buying and reading? No, I did not think so!


Seagulls in the Attic – Tessa Hainsworth

Seagulls in the Attic is the follow up to Tessa Hainsworth’s  first novel Up with Larks, which sees her settle into life in Cornwall as a postie after giving up a high powered job and moving herself and her family to live in what she sees as a dream place.

Tessa has been here a year now, and has become part of the furniture. Locals, incomers and second-homers all know her and she is developing her round into a community service more than delivering mail. Whilst delivering the post, she is delivering newspapers for folk who cannot get to a local shop because of transport links as well as no local shop! News on those who are ill, recovering, births, deaths and marriages. Produce of all descriptions, vegetables, cakes, pies and jams are bartered around for varying favours every day it seems to me.  I would like to hear Royal Mail’s take on this, are they aware that their vehicles are being used as such or do they turn a blind eye, to the valuable service they are unknowingly providing. Tessa becomes part of this when she takes up her own allotment and starts to grow everything and anything she can get her hands on. But she is still a new comer to these parts and the locals like nothing better than seeing what mishap befalls her next. Quicker than the post it is around all the local villages and hamlets.

In this volume, Tessa’s previous London life seems to start seeping through. Trying to be efficient and making life easier for some, in turn makes life very difficult for the majority of others.  Tessa is still slow to accept that change is not always a good thing and takes a long time to be even thought about before put into action into any of the surrounding villages.

This book is full of quirky stories about the locals, the difficulties that Tessa has trying to juggle her family, her work and all her blossoming interests including all the pets gathered along the way. Google is by far a strong character in more ways than one. But this book is full of wonderfully descriptive passages about the scenery, the smells, the weather, the tranquillity that Tessa has found being a “postie”.  There is an almost poetic taint to many paragraphs… “I wake up on the morning….looking out over a golden landscape. The sun is shining on the yellow beech leaves making them glow like jewels, turning the other leaves coppery, read and a deep bronze colour. Slanting sun beans dice through the fluffy clouds…”

My only concern having now read this, is whether there is more material for a third book? It would be a great shame for subsequent books to be rather weak with story but just churned out for the sake of selling an idyll in Cornwall. Sometimes I think it is better to go out on a high and perhaps develop new directions if wanting to continue as an author. It is like taking a holiday without even going anywhere and that is the strength in Tessa’s writing. If you cannot get to Cornwall this year then perhaps have a taster from this book and the previous one.

I enjoyed this book, despite never having been to Cornwall. It was just so descriptive and I learnt so much, especially about foraging for food! It is amazing what you can make out of supposed weeds and the like growing on the hedgerows. I think I will stick to Blackberry picking.

Tessa Hainsworth’s first book was one of the first that I posted on this blog here little did I know that 9 months later I would be still posting and reading the sequel as well! 


Zen and the Diary of a B&B Owner- Scott Barfield

Scott Barfield and his partner Helen give up security in jobs and set up a B&B in Brighton. This book collates all the guests, mishaps, requests and observations on human life along the way.

Set out in diary format, this covers a year from when they first got the B&B. (But if you are thinking of running a B&B this did not all happen in one year!) There are lots of funny stories about the guests they encounter asking for varying requests, the battle with the smokers as well as crossing the language barriers with many of their international residents. Think Fawlty Towers when it comes to the guests!

What made me laugh was the intuition that obviously built up into filtering their guests, so they only had the ones that were no trouble at all. Well appeared to be no trouble at all but you never can tell can you? A sixth sense which was highly developed by the end.

This book is funny in the main, and great for dipping in and out of, but there are some rather random rambling entries which to me were just a way of the author getting off his chest what he felt about a particular subject, whether it be global warming or politics. Those entries somewhat spoiled it for me. Though if you like books written by ‘real’ people who are experiencing life then this one would be a good book to add to your reading list.

I bought this book because it was on offer on Kindle – 70 pence instead of £9.99 for the paperback. I was that shallow about the book, I also loved the cover it is in a style that I like when it comes to some types of art. I think what I am trying to say is, I would have been disappointed if I had paid full price for it and although I am glad I read it, I am even more glad it only cost me  70 pence. 

I do like real life, behind the scenes type books, I am a fan of some of the books of the Babylon series, and I am currently reading Tessa Hainsworth’s Seagulls in the Attic, her follow up to Up With the Larks. I am enjoying the sequel and hope to have a review up here sooner than I think by the way I am reading books at the moment!


Belinda Goes To Bath – M.C. Beaton

The synonymous Miss Hannah Pym is back again with another adventure this time on the road to Bath. The weather is again treacherous but that does not put off Hannah.  Travelling on The Quicksilver this time, Hannah has a rather mix of travelling companions. Mr Judd a bully of a husband who does nothing to avail himself as the stronger of the sexes, seemingly delicate Mrs Judd who whimpers in the corner platitudes to her husband.  Miss Belinda Earle is being sent to Bath in disgrace after a bout of bad behaviour with a footman and her companion Miss Wimple who is supposedly her moral guidance but nothing more than a gossip, sets to ruin Miss Earle’s reputation.

As the happy or not so happy party, depart on the coach, they are put down in Maidenhead for the night where the dandy coachman carries on his drinking and by the time they set off again in the cold of morning, he may well have reached his limit and not be able to control the stage coach at all. But he can control the coach whether drunk or sober, and the party continues. Mrs Judd is aware of something that will affect them all and is proved right when Hannah observes that the coachman has fallen asleep as the whole coach with its passengers are cascaded into the icy cold river. Here we are introduced to more characters, the Marquess of Frenton who happened to be riding his estate, Baddell Castle, to avoid the company and wishes of Sir Henry and Lady Jordan and their daughter Penelope who are after a matrimonial match with the confirmed bachelor Frenton.

Frenton rescues the said party and they are deposited into his home, rather than taken to the nearest available inn to recover and wait while a replacement coachman and guard are sent to take over the journey.  Frenton hopes this might move The Jordan’s on. But they seem intent to stay regardless of these unexpected guests.

The time spent at Baddell Castle sees Hannah observing of her travelling fellows and realises that Miss Belinda Earle is too outspoken and forthright in her approach with men, after having an unsuccessful season and a flighty attitude to love.  Marquess of Frenton has spotted something lively in this girl, and Hannah uses that to carry on her matchmaking, whilst at the same time showing the Judd’s the value of respect for each other as well as the opportunity for work and bettering themselves  and even penetrating the cold exterior of Miss Wimple.

The story goes along at a good pace, and when you think all matches have been made, then something else surprises Hannah and us the reader. But you know that within a few pages, all will be well and even some incorrect behaviour for the time is somewhat glossed over because it all has resulted in love matches. Miss Hannah Pym can return to London and decide on her next journey but also all the matchmaking makes her realise her longing for some of her own. What will happen on her next adventure?

These are short books, less than 200 pages and have made for great escapist romantic reading. I hope I do not bore with my reviews of them, two following in such a short space of time. At the moment, I seem to be devouring books at a rate of knots! 


The Legacy – Katherine Webb

Erica and Beth Calcott inherit their grandmother Meredith’s house, they can keep it providing that they both live there, otherwise it has to be sold the only caveat to them inheriting and missing their mother’s generation who was disowned for not wanting to live there. Meredith was a forceful character, embittered and pointed with the way she dealt with her grandchildren and anyone she came into contact with.

Sisters, very different in manner and personality spend Christmas to initially sort out their grandmother’s legacy but also underneath to see if they want to go back and live in the house where they spent many of their childhood summers before one summer when tragedy struck and their cousin, Henry a nasty spiteful angry boy goes missing never to be found.

Beth has a secret to hide from that time, and Erica believes by being back in the house she will be able to let go of whatever she is punishing herself with which is making her mental state unstable. Back in the house, Beth feels even more unstable especially when a childhood friend, Dinny one of the travellers allowed to use the land brings past misdemeanours back to the fronts of all their minds. However, Erica being the younger sister cannot piece everything together and she starts to question and push both Beth and Dinny until she finds out the truth.

Erica also has another mystery to unravel when a picture of her great-grandmother, Caroline is found holding a baby, dated 1904 before she was married to Lord Calcott.  Katherine Webb takes us back to the beginning of the twentieth century and how Caroline ended up having a picture taken with a child that no one seems to know about or where no records are held. This is weaved into the story of the current time, and we get to build up a picture of how Meredith became the woman she became because of the lack of love her mother, Caroline. But why was Caroline like she was? We are taken back to America, to Oklahoma and almost a wild-west setting where Caroline’s past starts in New York and then on a cattle ranch, where the weather is harsh, and the landscape void of anything and where they live alongside American Indians which for Caroline is seen as a social misfortune, her prejudices are apparent immediately and are never dealt with fully. She does not thrive in this place and she is unable to have the one thing she thinks she desires a child; it begins to break her down that she does something unforgivable.

I was surprised by the ‘American’ parts of the story, the descriptions were vivid, and you could almost feel the sand irritating you as it did Caroline, but I felt no sympathy with her at all. She is a well developed character, that is not lacking, but I actually did not feel for her. She annoyed me because she would not accept her situation and then made others pay for it throughout her long life. Her prejudices were never broken down and when she became Mrs Calcott, these move effortlessly to the travellers. Her poisonous mind and lack of love is passed to Meredith her daughter, but why?

Erica back in the present is trying to find out the truth from letters and anecdotes and although she patches together a rather neat ending to it all, this book does not for me have the happy ever after that perhaps you want. That does not make it a bad ending, more it makes you think that actions have ramifications for many people, and that whilst you can help some to move on, their others who are lost and left behind with no reconciliation. To have had a happy ending for all would not have made the book true.

A well written book, and a good debut novel. It did take a while to settle into reading and flitted about a bit at first, but once I was into the style of writing, I read it with ease and was immersed into the story although I had worked a lot of the twists out along the way, but still wanted to see if I was right.

I called the title of my review on Amazon – A Unhappy Tale, because that is what I believed it to be. It did not make me unhappy as I enjoyed the book, which I hope the review shows. It is very difficult to explain this unhappiness. 

This book nicely falls into the ‘big house’ category that I do love in books. I have been reading quite a few books lately that fall into that category. In some reviews the comparison to Kate Morton is there, but I actually think that is because they have published the books with similar covers. That way I am sure being the cynic that I am they will draw in fans by purely those means and not by the quality of the writing and plot which I think is good. Though I cannot deny that if someone said to me what other books could I read of a similar ‘ilk’ I would suggest Kate Morton and more recently Lucinda Riley and Linda Gillard.

I know this was a TV Book Club book and won the favourite read, and whilst wandering over on the website I took the quiz about the book, which was meant to test how much you were paying attention to the book. I scored 92% not bad all things considered and I would suggest that these shows anyone that I absorbed the book. 

I will definitely pick up her next book, when it comes out in paperback (the smaller paperback version!) as the premise and reviews sound intriguing. I do like books set in modern day with a hark back to the past, my history degree is never far away from me. Although the topic of  the ‘wild-west’ in The Legacy was not something I had ever covered but I thought it was very interesting and enjoyed reading about it. I would not be averse now to reading something else set out there now.