Sunday, 28 December 2014

B&W Photography at Christmas

I do like to join up with the black and white photography project but over the past few weeks I haven't actually had a chance to take any photo's (quite weird as a photography student) it has all been about essay writing and personal statements for UCAS applications. I am currently working on a documentary project focusing on poverty and homelessness so I hope to blog about that at some point!

Christmas was pretty good for me (well I have been a good girl) As well as getting a car I also got a new camera...not sure which one I am more excited about!

I already have a Nikon DSLR and my new camera is a Nikon coolpix, although it's a bridge camera I love that it is so light and has a big screen that I can see the photos on. It means I can use a nice camera while out and about and keep my other one for particular projects.

So on Christmas day I had a little play around with my new coolpix, here are a few pics I took...

I am linking this post up to the Black and White photography project over at PODcast, open every Sunday if you would like to join in!

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A cake through the letterbox?

Last week we were sent an adorable little cake from Bakerdays If you have never heard of them, they are an online cake company that make personalised cakes for any occasion with any design you could possibly think of!

We were sent a letterbox cake to review, it is a perfect size to fit through your letterbox, meaning you don't have to wait in for the delivery. Problem was my postman didn't realise this and my cake was stuck in the post office depot for nearly a week as I was at work when he delivered it! Luckily the cake is sent a cute tin with a protective film and is fresh for up to two weeks so we were still able to enjoy it when I picked it up.

When choosing a cake with Bakerdays there is a selection of fillings including this very delicious chocolate chip filling, plain sponge, fruit or even gluten or dairy free making them a suitable gift for anyone. The sizes range from this letterbox size at £14.99 up to a large cake with 40-55 portions for £56.99 so a range for any budget.

The cake can be personalised with any name or message you choose but I didn't want to give mine away so I stuck with the original message!

Christmas may be over but with Valentine's day and Mothering Sunday just around the corner I think a cake would make the perfect gift!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

50 Books 2014 - November

Wow this year has just flown by and I have thoroughly enjoyed taking part in 50 books 2014! It has given me a great excuse to lose myself in a book without feeling guilty, after all I am competing in a challenge, even if it is just against myself.

So in the month of November I finished five books bringing my total to 41 which I think is pretty impressive, although it also means I still have to read 9 books in December if I am to succeed...eek!
It will mean reading more than I have done in any other month and December is pretty busy, however I do have a two week holiday and plan to spend it relaxing as much as possible so the challenge is not impossible. I fear that while everyone else is out partying on New years eve I will have my nose stuck in a book :-/

Here are the books I read in November

Evie has tried her hand at many things but they never seem to workout, always competing with her seemingly over-achieving sisters she is dreaming of the perfect life but suddenly everything turns upside down and she finds herself in a bit of a rut. When Evie's beloved aunt Jo passes away and leaves her the beach cafe in Cornwall it could be the chance of a new start that she is longing for or it could just be a whole lot of stress!

The Beach Cafe is a lovely read with a nice feel good factor, the story reads at a good pace and the characters are very like-able, the author sets a very picturesque setting of Cornwall where the story is set.

Evie managed to survive her first summer running the Beach Cafe and is looking forward to the Christmas season approaching. With her new boyfriend just moving in she is determined to make it the most romantic Christmas ever but with the arrival of unexpected guests it may not go to plan!

I sometimes feel sad when I get to the end of a book and I know the characters are gone forever so when I saw that the Beach Cafe had a second helping I just had to download it! The fact that it was a nice Christmas edition made it even better.

Maria is a young woman, newly pregnant and left alone with her in-laws while her husband is sent of to war. The nights are cold and lonely in rural Poland but when Maria comes across a young girl hiding in a barn she is compelled to risk her own life and that of her unborn child to help her.

I don't really remember much about this book because just as I was getting into the story it seemed to finish, great if you like short stories but I think it could have had a bit more to it.

Carla is a top model, she has what seems like the perfect life, expecting her first baby and cashing in on all the magazine opportunities that come with being a famous mum to be. When she wakes in the hospital bed one morning a her baby is missing it turns her life upside down. She vows that she will see her baby again no matter how long she is missing.
At the same time Susanna welcomes her new baby daughter after five agonising miscarriages but she feels that the only way to keep her safe is to keep her very close.

I really enjoyed this story, the characters are very believable and the story is set over many years meaning it doesn't get boring, you are compelled to find out when and if Maria will ever be reunited with her stolen daughter.

Wife and mother of 4 Rachel decides to leave the hassle and playground mafia of the suburbs for a peaceful life in the countryside but are the playground politics in the countryside any different that anywhere else? During the year Rachel becomes best friends and worst enemies with one of the mothers while learning all the juicy gossip about the rest of the village residents.

This book is very comical and I loved the layout of each chapter being a new month but was a bit disappointed with the actual story. The relationship with Rachel and fellow resident Penelope really wound me up and some of the goings on seemed to be a bit far fetched. Also with it being about playground mothers I expected the children to play more of a role in the story but it was very adult based.

For my last month of the 50 books 2014 challenge I have downloaded a few short stories and some nice Christmas reads to get me in the mood but if I don't complete 50 books it's a great excuse to start the challenge again in 2015!

If you are a book lover why not challenge yourself in 2015?

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Shelter Exhibition

Last week my photography class took a trip to the Science Museum to see the Nick Hedges documentary photography exhibition - Make life worth living.
The exhibition was commissioned by Shelter the homeless charity. Photos were taken at some of the poorest areas across the UK including Glasgow, London and Birmingham in the late 1960's and early 1970's

The exhibition itself is set in the Virgin media studio in the Science museum, it seems like a small collection as the size in comparison to the museum itself is tiny but there are actually a hundred photos all together.

The photographs were taken to highlight the poverty, homelessness and poor housing conditions throughout Britain during that era and some are shockingly chilling. While some of the images are hard-hitting there are also some that show happiness and one in particular of a group of children playing outside a run down block of flats just reminded me of my own childhood.

Some of the images also have a story with them while others leave you to work out the story for yourself.

I found the exhibition very touching and wondered how much has actually changed in the last 50 years. My next photography assignment is documentary photography focused on poverty and homelessness so this exhibition has given me a lot to think about.

Shelter are still helping people in housing crisis today and hopefully the exhibition will highlight the struggles that people are having to face everyday.
If you would like to visit the Nick Hedges exhibition it will be on until 18th January 2015 and is open everyday. Entry to the museum and the exhibition is free.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

50 Books 2014 - October

Another month and another few books read! I really hope I manage to complete this challenge because otherwise I will have to do it again next year  (I won't give up until I've done it) and as much as I love to read (I would happily read all day if I could) it is hard to fit it in with everything else.
Sitting in traffic on the bus in the mornings is no good for my time keeping but I must say it is great for my reading time and has helped me to get through 5 books this month, and I am half way through another 2 :)

So this is what I have enjoyed in October...

 Josh receives a text telling him that he has 48 hours to pay £250,000 or die! surely it must be a joke but when people around him start dying it has to be taken seriously. Will his attractive new bodyguard protect him and will he ever find out who it is that is actually blackmailing him?

I wasn't expecting much from this book when I first downloaded it but was actually pleasantly surprised. The plot was good and the descriptions were really well written, considering it is free on the Kindle I would recommend.

This is the story of Martha Connolly and her poverty stricken family, they are living in a run down tenement in Liverpool during the 30s and 40s and it tells of their struggle with hunger and disease during the great depression but also of the the uplifting spirit between the local community.

I found this book to be really long and it took me a few months to read it, going back to it after a few other books each time. I actually started to enjoy it towards the end and think that if I had read it all at once I may have liked it more. Great description of what life was like during that time and I really warmed to some of the characters.

Katie Parker is going to live with a religious family whether she likes it or not, her dad has gone AWOL and her mum is in prison so how is she going to settle with this new life and will she find a way to escape, back to her old ways?

This book was completely different to what I was expecting when I first looked at it, the character Katie is very relatable, although you do find yourself getting mad at her sometimes. With the book coming from a teenagers point of view I think it would be suited to a teen audience but saying that I found it very amusing and would definitely read other books from this author.

Natalie is a twenty something with a great job and living in London, the only thing that is missing in her life is the man of her dreams but will she have to go very far to find him?

This was a nice easy read, great if you like rom-coms although a bit predictable and easy to forget.

Brian is a geeky adolescent of the 80's and is ready to embark on his journey to university, with risk of losing his old drop-out mates and the struggle to find new ones, will an appearance on University challenge aid his life and help him to get the girl of his dreams?

With 'One Day' being one of my favourite books ever I was trying not to expect too much from this book of the same author. The book is so 80's it feels like you are actually in that era with the characters and can really picture the scene. I like how a question appears at the beginning of each chapter and thoroughly enjoyed this book.

I am posting this book review a bit late as I have just had no time to write on my blog with all the coursework I've had to do but thankfully I have still had time to read some more books!

This post is linked up with the 50 books 2014 challenge and at the end of October I have read a total of 36 books! 14 books to read in 2 months? hmmm I wonder if I'm going to make it?

Sunday, 26 October 2014

B&W Photography project

I took this picture at our local Feast market that features a retro fair. I thought the vintage items look quite fitting as a black and white photo.

This post is featured on The Black and White Photography project over at podcast, if you would like to join in just link up your own monochrome image in a blog post!

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Sunday, 19 October 2014

B&W Photo

I have been finding it really hard to keep up with blogging while juggling family, work and studying so I thought as a photography student the best thing to do is find a linky that I can combine my photos and a simple blog post.

I think some photos need colour to help tell their story but there are certain images that just work as black and white!

I was recently given the prompt 'waiting' by my tutor for a photo to hand in as homework. We were sent outside to practice experimenting with exposure and I took this shot of a woman waiting by the road.

I love how the road looks empty apart from the lady but actually it was a really busy afternoon, I also like the composition of the tree on the opposite side of her. I think the image has more impact in black and white than it would in colour.

This post is linked up with The B&W Photography project over at Podcast.

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Halloween at our house

Halloween is not a massive event at our house, I mean we don't go overboard and decorate the whole house and it's a bit too close to Christmas to spend too much money when we could be using it for gifts. We do however like to dress up and eat loads of candy...well who doesn't?

Yes I have to live with these creatures...

I don't normally buy any expensive outfits for the occasion, I think the vampire outfit is actually from the pound shop! I find when dressing up that its better to improvise with what you have and throw a bit of face paint in.

The kids love to go out trick or treating, they usually go in a group because it can be very frightening when there are werewolves, witches and all sorts roaming the streets!

I like to sit at home with my big bowl of goodies for the scary callers (hoping that nobody will knock so I can eat all the sweets for myself) We usually put some decorations in the window or on the door so that others know we are happy for them to knock because I know some people do not like being pestered all night.

What will you be doing for Halloween, dressing up and partying the night away or closing the curtains and having an early night?

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

50 Books 2014 September

This month I have only managed to finish 1 book but all is not lost, I am mid way through another 3 and have downloaded loads more onto my kindle (I know I have to actually read them for it to count) so should be back on track in no time!

The one I did read was pretty long so if I add a few short stories to the mix it should help me out.

Anybody out there is the story of Anna Walsh. Anna is staying with her parents in Dublin but desperate to get back to her life in New York, back to her friends, back to her amazing job and back to her husband Aiden. But what has driven her so far away from her fabulous life and why is her husband not replying to her emails?

I love Marian Keyes books and this one did not disappoint! Very realistic with some real laugh out loud humour, especially Anna's sister Helen who is spying on the criminals of the Dublin underworld. The book is full of emotion and takes some unexpected turns throughout.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Moonlight Movie

I have wanted to go to an outdoor cinema for ages, I even put it on my bucket list, so when I saw that The Luna Cinema were showing a film in my local park I booked 2 tickets straight away. The movie on show was The Wolf of Wall Street and is one that I hadn't previously seen and thought it would be perfect for a date night. Being together for 18 years and having four children means date nights don't come around very often!

We arrived at the park at around 7:30, the time the ticket stated and found a nice spot not to close to the screen. Lots of people came with their picnic baskets but we just stopped off at the local Tesco on the way and got a nice supply of crisps and chocolate although there were staff members who came around while everyone was settling in with free samples of coffee and cheeses!

So everything started off really well, the weather was quite warm as it was a nice August evening but then a guy came on the tannoy to say that the movie wouldn't start until the sun went down, well that wasn't until 2 hours after we arrived by which time my bum was numb. I could tell that a lot of people were already experienced with the whole outdoor cinema concept as they didn't arrive until much later and came with chairs, pillows, blankets...the full works!

I brought my coat with me in case it got cold, who was I kidding? Even with it done up and the hood on it was absolutely freezing. I'm sure if the movie wasn't so loud the people next to me would have heard my teeth chattering!

The park had got really packed and really dark so when the man didn't return from the toilets I checked my phone and saw a text message to say he couldn't find me and was sitting at the side by the gates. Halfway through the film I was dying for a wee but didn't want to leave my stuff in case I couldn't find where we were sitting either so I had no option but to pack all my stuff up (as quietly as possible) and head for the toilet. I found the man and we decided it would be better to just go home and watch a movie in the comfort (and warmth) of our living much for a date night!

It didn't quite work out as planned but I still like the idea of the outdoor cinema, if I do ever go again I will definitely be a bit more prepared but I have at least ticked something else off my bucket list!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

50 books 2014 - August

I have done really well this month, it must be all those lazy summer afternoons relaxing in the garden that has helped me to get through 6 books. I am really going to miss it now it's back to work time!

I have read 30 books in total now and if I can manage one a week from now I will be pretty close to my target however I am starting college and going back to work soon so may have to give up some of my TV time to do it!

So here is what I have been reading over summer...

This is the true story of Jane, an east end gangster. She tells the story of her antics from a young girl to her obsession with guns that saw her end up in prison. With a young son to look after Jane wants to make money in a legitimate way but the life of crime just wont let her go and armed with her samurai sword and shotgun nobody is going to stand in her way!

I found this story of Gypsy Jane a bit exaggerated, some of what happens seems a bit hard to believe and Jane herself seems arrogant and delusional. Just a few words from her can cause a criminal boss to pee his pants in front of a pub full of all his gangster followers? The book itself was quite a good read but more of a fictional one, if you are into modern crime stories I would stick to Martina Cole as they are more believable.

Leila is a bit of a loner, she spends most of her time in front of the computer and has no interest in joining in with the shallow social lives her school friends have gone on to live. When approached to take on  the task of living the virtual life of a fragile woman who wants to kill herself, will she be up to the job?

I really did enjoy this book and towards the middle I couldn't put it down. I was telling my daughter what was happening and each time I read some more she would pester me to give her an update! The character Leila is a bit obsessive and can get annoying at times but you also find yourself feeling sorry for her. Quite a unique story and if you are interested in the dark side of the Internet then this is the book for you.

This is a memoir of Jackie Kay, a mixed race girl that was adopted by white parents, although she had a very loving upbringing with her adopted brother she feels the need to find out about her history and goes in search of her birth parents. Her journey takes her between Scotland, Milton Keynes and across the globe to Nigeria but will she find what she's looking for?

This is a very charming story. Very honest and emotional read and I loved the relationship between Jackie and her new found siblings, how there were so many similarities even though they had never met. I wasn't too keen on the way the story jumped between place and time so often as it was hard to keep up with where and when the story was. A great insight into the thoughts and feelings of an adopted child.

 A small isolated valley known as the sink attracts loneliness and hardship. When some mysterious creature roams the swamp and surrounding forest killing livestock and scaring the life out of the all the inhabitants it brings them unexpectedly into each others company.

The book sounds like a really good read and being a short story I assumed it would be a quick and easy. The story is quite complicated and one that needs a lot of attention to be able to understand what is going on, meaning I couldn't keep up with it during the adverts of coronation street! To be honest I still don't know what the creature that terrorised the town is and I think when I have spare time I may try to re read it.

This is the story of Izzy who is approaching her 41st birthday, the same age her mum was when she killed herself. Izzy's dad and sister are flying out so the family can spend the weekend together but it is sure to be emotionally charged as she reminisces about the good times spent with her eccentric yet tormented mum.

The book was beautifully written and quite lighthearted. While tackling the issue of mental illness and the effect it had and is still having on the family, there were also some humorous parts. It is a lovely recap of the characters life but not really any suspense.

When 15 year old Shep was murdered during an apparent robbery a local boy named Daniel handed himself into the police, sentenced to death the family are left to get on with their life. 19 years later as the lethal injection is ready to do it's job, Shep's mum befriends the boy and finds herself fighting to save him. Does she know a hidden secret that surrounded the murder?

I really enjoyed this book and loved the mystery that kept me turning the pages. I found myself trying to work out what was about to be revealed but never guessed the outcome. The writing reminded me a bit of Jodi Picoult so if you are a fan of hers I'm sure you will enjoy this novel.

So that is my round-up for August! Have you had any blockbuster novels you have read this summer? As I still have 20 books to read this year I would greatly appreciate some recommendations...

Saturday, 30 August 2014

A daytrip to Brighton

We have been to Brighton quite a few times as I have family that live there, but with so much to do we never get bored of it! So when a friend asked us if we wanted to go on a day out to the funfair on the pier we couldn't resist. Although after last years trip to Alton towers I opted to carry the bags and take the photos while they were on the rides! I much prefer the 2p machines anyway.

As expected on a summer weekend Brighton was pretty busy although as it was quite a grey day there were not many sunbathers or swimmers on the beach. Most people were on the pier, which was our first stop. You have to pass by the arcades to get to the actual fair so I couldn't help but spend way too much on the 2p machines only to come away with a small London phone box ornament and a fake eye...don't ask!

The funfair rides take tokens but we bought bands that give you unlimited rides for £15 so the kids enjoyed a good few hours worth of rides before we went to enjoy fish and chips on the beach.

We couldn't have gone to Brighton without having at least a little paddle in the sea...

We had a great day out and with a long walk past all the shops (and there are hundreds) to get to the station we were completely worn out by the time we got home!

This post is linked up with #countrykids over at Coombe Mill...
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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