Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Judas Scar a #brillYANT book by Amanda Jennings

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Of course I jumped at the chance to review The Judas Scar the new book by Amanda Jennings, after all her first book was brilliant so this was surely going to be the same no?

NO. Actually it wasn’t the same. It was nowhere near the same. It was totally and utterly more brillYANT.

The book is about a couple, Will and Harmony, whose marriage was rocked by a miscarriage and were needing to get back on track, when a stranger, Luke, who wasn’t really a stranger appeared on the scene to reminisce in a menacing and angry way.

I started off reading it slowly and my inner control worked well. I got to know the characters and felt compelled to shout at everyone with my hands up by my mouth No, nooooo, NOooOooo!!!

Then boooom and whack my inner control lost it and hardly daring to breathe I gulped – yes gulped – the book down, as a result my reading was frantic and I assure you that YOU will also gulp it down. At the end of the book I thought blimey, crikey and a bucketload of other words and expletives how on earth could I not see that??? I then had to re-read the last few chapters to make sure it ended like I had read it and it did end like I had read it. How??

Well I’ll tell you why, it’s because Amanda Jennings is a high priestess of weaving in twisty turns and stings in tails, which could make her sound like a scary author lady, but she’s not scary. She’s a lovable person who just so happens to write books, not just any books but blinking ace books, not that I suggest you do actually blink because if you do you will miss something.

I wish she’d hurry up with the next book and the one after that.

Thank you Amanda for the opportunity to review The Judas Scar x

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Our introduction to Reading Rockets

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I’ve known Matt (Reading Rocket’s director of coaching) for a while and he has often said “come along and watch a game of basketball” but for one reason or another the dates never really tallied with our frantic diary. However in the Easter holidays there was a game that we were able to go along to and crikey are we glad we went!

Yes yes we were glad! The girls had dabbled in basketball at school but I’d never seen a game in full flow so it was a steep learning curve! Very steep! I knew the players were tall but let’s face it being 5′ 2″ then I think 5′ 4″ is tall. I looked at the programme and some of them were 6′ 9″, that’s not just tall that’s really really REALLY tall!

From the moment the game started we were cheering and groaning in all the right places along with a loyal crowd of home supporters, we got into singing “let’s go Rockets” and there was of course much hurrahing and clapping. Matt kindly explained some of the rules to us and in the quarter breaks I did a quick search on how to play basketball so I felt a little bit more knowledgeable. It was a fast moving game, with a huge amount of skill and ball control, the players didn’t shout at each and gesticulate crazily
like other sports when they’re like here, here, here, here – to me, to me, to me (frankly that’s just telling the opposition your game plan) and it was exceedingly family friendly.

We are going again, I think you can say we’ve got the bug!! Laree was booked on the holiday camp the following week and seeing a game in full flow she was excited and l’ll share with you more of that another time. The Rockets play at Rivermead in Caversham which is easy to find and where there’s plenty of pay and display parking.

Anyway don’t just take my word for it, why don’t you go and see for yourself – take all the family, take your friends it’s a fabulous atmosphere, it’s family friendly, it’ll inspire you to pick up a ball, it’s fast moving, it’s our local team, it’s brillYANT!

Thanks Matt for the family ticket!

Shoe Fitting

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similar to the dentist’s chair

I really don’t like going to the dentist, but when I used to take my 3 for a school shoe fitting that really used to tip me over the edge!!  Stressful!  As well as the regular shoe fitters there was always one that would be a casual member of the shoe fitting world and they would be the one to deal with my lot, the children would be in grouches due to lack of acceptable and trendy choice, the waiting times would be ridiculous and the shoe shop or area would be so hot that you’d be semi naked when the magic number is called.

Ha!  Not so in Becca’s shop Cariad in Brecon.  Becca has been a child in the days when there was a distinct lack of school shoe choices, she also has children, she knows all about successful shoe fittings AND she can decipher what the parent is saying “will you not find laces slow you down?” roughly equates to “laces are not an option” and “not sure taking a toy into school is a good idea” means “no toys”.  I’ve also known her since school, when our school shoe choices were dire! We were made to wear Lisa Dee shoes and they were nicknamed boats because they were vessels, they kept the water out and when Lucy Peacock filled hers with water they kept the water in!

 

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school shoes, black or well black!

Whilst Laree was having her Cinderella moment I was looking at shoes for little people, it took me back to when I bought the first pair of Start-Rites!

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oh I loved those dinky little shoes

and wondering what the biggest size was (asking for a friend!)

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oh look green shoes!

With shoes sorted and acceptable all round we paid our money and admired the rest of the shop

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beautiful clothing

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Gorgeous cards from Licorice Trading http://www.licoricetrading.com

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lovely pram

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Hey Mr Tambourine Man

before heading to Becca’s other shop Ty Cariad for a Keith Brymer Jones bowl for Big Welsh and a bracelet for me.

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If you’re looking for a shoe fitter in who will make the whole shoe fitting experience a stress-free pleasure then head to Brecon, go and see Becca and support an independent retailer while you’re at it!

Cariad is at 6 The Bulwark, Brecon and Ty Cariad is at 6b The Bulwark, you can also find them on FB, Pinterest and Twitter and there’s also an eBay shop.

Seeing red

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When Emma said she was going to be on the news talking about Scarlet Fever I got over excited and started throwing in red colour chart phrases into our texts.

In short Joni had Scarlet Fever, they sat on the red sofa, I suggested a glass of claret and whilst I’m immensely proud of my friend she won’t be getting any red carpet treatment here! But I might will give a her a glass of pink fizz.

You can read about her day here

Making memories

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On Thursday I drove to the Valleys to drop my girls off at Big Welsh’s parents so I could nip to Cardiff and see Charch my poorly friend. She was all cwtched up in her bed and she looked peaceful. I was glad I was able to hurtle into Wales armed with bundles of love, cheery messages from school friends and her friends around the world and was able to chat one more time about her love of power ballads; sharing one last memory with her.

After spending precious time with her and her family I went to Whitchurch to see another schoolfriend and then zoomed back up the A470 and went to sleep. Whilst we were sleeping Charch died, very peacefully, at 4.06am on Friday morning, surrounded by her family.

Numb. That’s how we all feel. We knew it was coming, we knew it wouldn’t be long, but it’s wrong, so wrong that a bright, talented and amazing friend has died aged 45.

Over the last 7 months, since she came home, her friends have kept her spirits up with visits, cards, flowers, cakes, books, slippers, balms, socks, photo albums and CDs. Those friends have also been the most amazing and supportive network for her mum and family, it’s bittersweet that we’ve mothered a mother turning up with freezer food and cake.

In those months we’ve been making memories. We’ve cried in private and laughed with Charch, we’ve enjoyed her mum’s hospitality, we’ve hogged the fireplace sofas at New House Hotel, baggsied the sofa at The Maltsters, she’s been taken out for trips and adventures, she was surprised with a visit to a Carol Service at our old school. We’ve laughed, cried, reminisced over school days, tried to think back to our twenties, we’ve relived our thirties and celebrated into our forties as well as covering new ground, refinding old friends, sharing precious moments and above all we’ve been making precious memories.

All the while Charch has been getting more frail and weak until she slipped away gracefully and very peacefully on Friday 11 April at 4.06am aged 45.

Never once did she ask anyone for anything, at no point did she demand anything from anyone, what she did do was say “come and see me if you want to but don’t feel you have to”, she also taught us how to accept her situation.

So yes it’s a sad post but we’ve been also been memory making.

She’s brought a lot of people together again, we’ve had some brilliant weekends, I’ve spent more time in Wales than the preceding 24 years, some people who have fallen out have let bygones be bygones. Charch made this happen.

On the way home I went to Brecon to see my friend Becca in her shop and I treated myself to a bracelet. I couldn’t resist it. The wording is both apt and true.

Charch, may you rest in peace. You’ve been a great friend, you’ve been amazing and to quote a power ballad you’re the inspiration!

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19 years ago I uttered those words after Big Welsh proposed  and as soon as they were out of my mouth it seemed that everyone had an opinion as to what would be the best wedding ever.  I think everyone wanted us to have things at our wedding that they didn’t have at theirs!  We wanted a very small and simple wedding, with an evening reception the next day and suggested a Friday in May which prompted my paternal Grandmother to say marry in May rue the day.  I suppose having been together for 7 years she wasn’t able to say marry in haste repent at leisure!  Well she did have a a point as May was a very busy month what with Big Welsh’s birthday, 2 Bank Holidays and a half term meaning my pageboys wouldn’t be around.

We went for June.  A FridayDaring.  Well we had to get married on Friday as opposed to Saturday because the ushers wouldn’t be there, the majority of guests wouldn’t either and more importantly neither would my brother and as he was giving me away it was rather important it was on a Friday.  My brother had introduced me to Big Welsh at the cricket club 7 years before and if there were no players on the Saturday then there’d be no game and subsequently there’d be a riot and that’s just not cricket!

My Godmother, Judy, said she would make my dress for me and as I had no idea what I wanted but I had a very good idea of what I don’t want she suggested we went to see Beryl a pattern cutter in Romsey.  Beryl took one look at me and said “simple, certainly not white, green trim and just brushing the floor”.  I hoped she meant my dress was to be simple and I wasn’t.  I didn’t dare question her as she wrapped a cream piece of material around me in a flourish, with her tape measure moving around me magically, pins in her mouth and gathering the material land tutting, smiling and repining! I was gobsmacked that this lady who I had never met before could decide what I wanted without me saying anything!  I had tried on a big hooped, white, frothy thing and looked odd!  The pageboys (aged 5 and 7) were dressed in green checked shirt, beige shorts, beige socks and green sandals.  Judy had piped their outfits with the same green that she had piped my dress in and we all had the same green buttons.  They looked gorgeous!  The bridesmaids had green dresses that weren’t unlike mine and they too looked gorgeous.  Big Welsh was in tails with a green tie.  He looked dashing, I looked short apparently!

So, we got married on a Friday in June.  A friend of my mother’s drove us to the Church in his green Jag .  We had the hymns and music that we wanted (Dambusters, Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, Bread of Heaven, Jerusalem), I amazed everyone by saying obey, my brother was delighted to give me away and every one of the 50 guests looked fabulous.  We then drove back to my childhood home for canapés and a buffet in the hottest marquee known to man as the temperatures reached 30 degrees.

After the speeches, I got changed into my going away outfit, handed my bouquet to my grandmother for her to lay on my father’s grave and we got back in the green jag and drove off to Cliveden where we watched the most amazing storm and had an idyllic evening.

The following day we went back to Mum’s and got ready for a casual evening reception where everyone let their hair down and we partied early into the next day, before spending the night at Cantley.  Just as well we didn’t have any plans on the Sunday as we were exhausted and wanted to get back to our own home, open our presents and just relax!

Oh but we did!  Mum had invited half the village, two thirds of the next village and one tenth of a small Outer Hebrides island.  Back on went my going away outfit and back to Mum’s!

That night we eventually got home and just flopped, exhausted after a weekend of getting married!  The following day we set off for Somerset for our wind down honeymoon week at Pennard Hill Farm, taking with us fizz left over from the wedding and stinking colds.

Our wedding gift to each other was a cold, that’s certainly not a gift to be sneezed at!