Monday 30 October 2023

What I read in October 2023

I've now read 53 books in 2023 and with 9 weeks to go till the end of the year, that will bring my total up to 61. I'm quite impressed with myself that I've managed to keep it going this well and this long.

In 2022 I challenged myself to only buy clothes that were necessary, rather than just wanted and I've managed to keep going with that this year also.

I need a new challenge for 2024, I['m fundraising for Birmingham Children's Hospital in November walking 3 miles a day, maybe that's a challenge I could complete every day in 2024, unless anyone else has any ideas?

Finally finished in October, having started it in June and attempted again in September Tess of the d'Ubervilles. I've still to finish Don Quixote - Cervantes (from February). I also ploughed my way through Jane Austin's Emma and enjoyed some light reading with Marian Keyes - Grown Ups.

For the rest of the year I'm sticking to modern books and steering clear of the classics, although there is a re read of A Streetcar named Desire and constant re reading of Frankenstein, The Great Gatsby and King Lear to keep up with the students studying A Level English Literature.

`I've decided to keep the book a week challenge going throughout 2024, regardless of whether I'm still involved with 6th form or working with years 7-11 and reading Of Mice and Men, Animal Farm and  Macbeth for the millionth time.

Most of the books I read are from friends and family and they get passed around. I also borrow books from the library and read recommended books in school. I've a bag of books to swop with my cousin in Brighton later this month when we visit.

So far this year I've read the following:


Lord of the Flies - William Golding. Re read from O level days

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee. One of those books everyone should read

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens. Re read from O level days

Off Mice and Men - John Steinbeck. Re read from O level days

Macbeth - Shakespeare. Re read from O level days

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood. Never watched the TV series, but the book was brillant

A Streetcar Named Desire - Tennessee Williams. One we all think we know till we read it.

Frankenstein - Mary Shelly. The hardest book I've read to date, takes ages to get going through a series of letters.


Three Men in a Boat - Jerome K Jerome. Loved this book so much, a travel guide to the Thames.

Good Eggs - Rebecca Hardiman. Light and easy read.


Pippi Longstockings - Astrid Lindgren. A childhood favourite.

Five on a Treasure Island - Enid Blyton. A childhood favourite.

The Tempest - Shakespeare. Read the summary first to get an understanding of the plot, characters came to life.

Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson. A bit boring, had to persevere.


Agatha Raisin Terrible Tourist - M. C. Beaton. Quick read in a day.

Anything Could Happen - Lucy Diamond. A life that could've gone either way, all the 'what ifs?'

Home Truths - Susan Lewis. Dealing with your husbands murder and blaming your son who then becomes a missing person.

The Wild Roses - D.B. Carter Three friends in the mid 80's making different choices and following the paths they lead.

Oranges are not the only fruit - Jeanette Winterson. Absolutely loved the BBC drama with Charlotte Coleman back in 1991. A young woman growing up with the church and not conforming with mothers expectations of her.

The Enemy - Lee Child. Exploring Reachers military days.


Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe. My fathers book given to him by his Granny in 1947.

Restoring Grace - Katie Fforde. Easy read about lost love and new beginnings.

Follow Me Home - Cathy Woodman. A light hearted story about finding new love.

Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell. Hard to get going, but once engaged the pages just raced past.

When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kaplanithi. Pauls' story as a Neurologist discovering he has brain cancer, how he deals with the treatment, life and ultimately his death.

Five Go Adventuring Again - Enid Blyton. I've been reading this book alongside a mentee in school and we've been comparing childhood with the now and the then.


Postmortem - Patricia Cornwell - Making sure my windows are locked during the hot weather

Blue Moon - Lee Child - Quite a lot of graphic violence but good plot line

The Hobbit - J R R Tolkien Very different to my childhood memory of reading this book, probably because all I can see now as I read are the characters as they were portrayed on TV

Malory Towers - Enid Blyton 'Your people are here' Parents arrive to collect their daughter from boarding school


The American Dream 1965 - Norman Mailer A very violent read, stuck with it as it is relevant to the A Level curriculum

F. Scott Fitzgerald - Andre Le Vot More of a book to reference and understand


Again, Rachel - Marion Keyes I've read these books completely out of order.

Blow Fly - Patricia Cornwall Read out of order, her niece, Lucy is now an adult and playing an active role in the case.

The missing years - Lexie Elliot A proper page turner, read in a day.

No Plan B - Lee Child Typical Reacher

Past tense - Lee Child The story seemed so disjointed but typical Reacher.

The invisible man - HG Wells Hard reading

It started with Paris - Cathy Kelly  Following several families as they suffer loss, find love and intertwine

Head over heels - Jill Mansell Pop star discovers he'd fathered a child on moving to a new town and meeting and falling in love with his ex.

Perfect timing - Jill Mansell Jilted her husband to be at the night before the wedding then goes off to find her true love.

Stone Town  - Margaret Hickey Australian murder set in an old Gold Rush town outside Adelaide

A random act of kindness - Sophie Jenkins Searching for love running a vintage market stall

Her last holiday - C L Taylor Fran is searching for answers to her sisters disappearance at a retreat in Greece.

Nine Perfect Strangers - Liane Moriarty Set in a retreat in Australia, 9 strangers locked in a plot with twists and turns

The Unhoneymooners - Christina Lauren An odd couple thrown together on a romantic honeymoon pretending to be their siblings.


The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald A man seeking to be someone he'll never really be.

POSH - Laura Wade Based on the Bullingdon Club, an all male dining club at Oxford University.

The Dark Room - Sam Blake Set in Ireland, solving an old crime.

King Lear - Shakespeare A tragedy as King Lear prepares for his death.

Saturday 28 October 2023

Week 43 One Daily Positive and Project 365. 2023

Migraine not going and rescue meds not working, so tried the following for 36 hours. 12 soluble aspirin, 1 pain killer, 2 paracetamols, 1 triptan and 1 anti sickness, 3 times a day. On Wednesday the Dr sent me to the hospital. An appointment has been made to see a neurologist soon.

We finished the week in Northern Ireland staying with our son (child 4) his wife and our grandson.

296 Sunday Lazy morning, did some washing and at 11am we decided to pop into Worcester for coffee. Big mistake it took over an hour (7 miles) to get in due to flooding on the main road. We did some Christmas shopping and took a long drive home, an hours drive without any delays. We discovered a Laylocks Garden Centre and stopped off to buy buy cheese.

Bobs memorial pot has been planted with seeds given to us by a friend and from the vets.

297 Monday Migraine in full force, I struggled through the day at work on heavy meds. Called GP at 3pm and was given new meds for the next 24 hours, a near referral and told to call GP on Wednesday if no improvement.

Strawberries still fruiting.

298 Tuesday Spent the day alternating between sleep, drinking tea and the bathroom. By 7pm, whilst the pain has subsided, I can still feel the migraine.

My companion for the day, think she's noticed Bob isn't here anymore and she follows me from room to room and enjoys the odd crisp.

299 Wednesday Back to the GP as the migraine hasn't gone, the pain just gets numbed. She sent me to Same Day Emergency Care at Worcester Royal Hospital. They were so lovely and much kinder than when you're waiting in A&E in severe pain. I was hooked up on IV for 3 hours, was able to open my eyes, my head didn't explode when I coughed and I was home by 9pm.

300 Thursday Day of headache and stiff neck. I went out for a walk to get some fresh air, but it was too much for me. Friend popped up to collect keys and cat instructions whilst we're away. Had a nice long bath and packed for our trip tomorrow.

I bleached the underneath of my hair which went really well, but after adding the blue, I now have grey hair again.

301 Friday Work then off to Birkenhead for the over night ferry to Belfast. Still got a headache, but a good journey. It was really strange not having to take Bob to the kennels on board as usual.

Liverpool viewed from the ferry.

302 Saturday Had a surprisingly good sleep from 11pm till 5.30am, too noisy to sleep out of those times with engine noise and safety instructions. Drove to sons via a coffee stop, arriving within an hour of docking at 6.30am. Grandchild was a little wary of us, having only seen us on video calls since our last visit in July. We went out for a food shop, rest of the day spent at home, resting and playing.

Shopping for pumpkins.

On the blog this week:

Getting nothing done other than moving things around

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Friday 27 October 2023

Post Comment Love 27th - 29th October. Happy Halloween.

Welcome back to #PoCoLo with Stephanie from Bosworth.Life  and I.

Post Comment Love #PoCoLo is a friendly weekly linky where you can link up any blog post you've written this week and all we ask is that you leave a comment on either mine or Stephanie's post which you linked up through and at least one other post. We'd also love it if you could RT us on Twitter when we tag you to help us reach a wider audience.

We're away in Northern Ireland visiting child 4 and his family. it's our grandsons 2nd birthday next weekend, sadly we'll be back home by then so we're having an early party and some Halloween fun. Christmas presents also wrapped and dropped off from us and the family.

I'll be catching up with reading your posts, sharing and commenting over the next few days. 

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Monday 23 October 2023

Getting nothing done other than moving things.

I don't know about you, but I have plans, big and small. Loads of craft project, garden ideas, blog posts, books to read, a book to write, baking, a list of movies to watch, puzzles to do.

But nothing gets done.

I'm out the house every week day from 8am - 4pm. I come home and I do nothing other than read, watch TV, pop bubbles on my phone and scroll through Facebook. I go to bed disappointed in myself that I've done nothing.

Then the weekend comes and I spend one day tidying the house, washing, ironing, putting things back where they belong then the second day we go out to visit family or friends, food shop, drink coffee and just wander around.

Then the week starts afresh where I vow to do something each evening, some sewing, painting or bake some cakes.

Monday starts well, then I look at the mess I've just created, then I fall back into my usual routine.

I swim twice a week, then my bag sits on the stairs till the weekend, I walk or cycle to and from work and my outdoor clothes and shoes pile up in the downstairs toilet.

We cook dinner and load the dishwasher, the washing machine starts to fill with clothes, books and magazines lay around the house and for some reason there are boxes and baskets with things in to be put away of donated to the charity shop.

Random boxes lie around the house, waiting to be delivered, emptied or taken to the charity shop. 

Handbag gets emptied and never put away.

The bedroom always needs organising, with clothes piling up and make up and nail varnish to put away after our grandchild's visit.

Right now our dining room table is out of action as it is piled with Halloween, birthday and Christmas gifts to wrap, ready for our trip to Northern Ireland to visit our grandson later this month, then they'll ba a car to unpack, more things to put away and the washing machine to go on again.

The attic has been emptied of 6 dining room chairs, 2 other chairs and a nest of tables to sell or donate.

I think I just need a week at home to get things organised and arranged so I can complete jobs without making a mess.

The house gets cleaned as and when it needs doing, but it's never today and clean at the same time, there's always washing around, a mop drying in the kitchen before it can go back in the cupboard, a dishwasher to unload, a cat litter tray to be emptied, dead flowers to compost and a myriad of other jobs waiting to be done.

Do you feel like all you do is just tidy and move things around, never actually doing anything?

Sunday 22 October 2023

Week 42 One Daily Positive and Project 365 2023

I'm up to date with all my paperwork, blog posts and commenting as well as finally having a clean and tidy house at the same time. It feels good.

We have lots of trips and days out planned between now and the middle of December from Northern Ireland, Eastbourne, London and a trip to Newport to meet our great niece born last earlier this month.

There will be plenty of time for reading, meeting friends and going for walks and drinking coffee.

After 4 days of Peter asking me if I wanted the heating on, as soon as I said 'go on then' it was a race to the kitchen to get it on.

I've had a migraine brewing this week and taken all my meds. Really irritated by it as I've not had any wheat, been under any excessive stress or had alcohol. I've also reduced my calorie intake by not snacking on biscuits, crisps or sweets, so no idea why this migraine has come along.

289 Sunday We had a relaxing day, did some cleaning, went on a pub cand shopping crawl around town. Had a late lunch/early tea and watched TV.

Got round to putting new batteries in everything. All clock now ticking.

290 Monday Cycled to work and back and spent the afternoon/evening in front of the TV and blogging.

View from my egg pod.

291 Tuesday Went for coffee on my way to work. No Bob with us, got quite upset. After work I walked home via the retail park, indulged in another coffee and Peter picked me up at 6pm on his way home from visiting his mum in Keynsham.

No Bob.

292 Wednesday Lift to work and back for my flu and covid jab. Evening spent baking, lounging in the bath and watching TV.

Cat is morphing into Bob's space.

293 Thursday Lift to work and home at 4pm after homework club. My arms are aching and I was so tired I thought I'd fall asleep during the day. Had tea, a bath and was in bed and asleep by 8am.

Neighbours garden is higher than ours and since we started ground works the over flow isn't draining like it used to.

294 Friday Woke at 4am and sat outside drinking tea and blogging. No chips and wine this evening but a colleague from work called round early evening.

Getting my halloween on.

295 Saturday A long day which started with meeting Mum off the bus in Gloucester and walking to the Quays to meet Peter who had gone on to collect child 1. We had coffee, did mine and mums Christmas shopping for child 4 and his family in Northern Ireland, stopped off at Asda for a food shop then dropped mum home and called in to see Grandchild and did trick or treat with them as we're away for Halloween. Home late and straight to bed.

On the blog this week:

Kuala Lumpur in August

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Friday 20 October 2023

Post comment Love 20th-22nd October 2023

Welcome back to #PoCoLo with Stephanie from Bosworth.Life  and I.

Post Comment Love #PoCoLo is a friendly weekly linky where you can link up any blog post you've written this week and all we ask is that you leave a comment on either mine or Stephanie's post which you linked up through and at least one other post. We'd also love it if you could RT us on Twitter when we tag you to help us reach a wider audience.

It's got really cold this week and the heating went on after 4 days of hubby asking if I wanted it on, eventually I took the hint and said 'go on then'

The past few weeks we've neglected the house due to my mum staying for a week, the dog being ill, followed by Mother in Law coming to stay for 2 weeks, whilst she recovered from an illness. Since getting back from Australia late August, followed by back to school for me, we've not had a weekend at home and a chance to catch up with stuff. We finally achieved that last weekend, but all I feel I ever do, is just move things and tidy and not actually do, make, create anything.

The dining room table was my project this week, getting ready for our trip to Northern Ireland to visit our grandson for his 2nd birthday, halloween and Christmas gift drop.

I'll be catching up with reading your posts, sharing and commenting over the next few days. 

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Monday 16 October 2023

Kuala Lumpur in August 2023

After our 5 weeks in Australia, we had a stop over in Kuala Lumpur. It was our first visit and it met our expectations.

Travel for us is different since we became expats, we travel more and travel further and often arrive 'blind' someone where and work things out as we go. All I knew about KL was the Petronus Towers and the painted steps, Batu Caves.

View from the hotel rooftop

View from KL Tower

We arrived at 6am and couldn't check into our hotel until 2pm. So we stayed at the airport for coffee, got SIM cards and waited till daylight around 8.30am before getting a taxi.

Taxi's are prepaid in KL, there's a desk in arrivals, the price is fixed and you had the receipt in at a kiosk outside and they summon a car for you. We did the same at our hotel on trips out and for our return trip.

The airport was about 1 hour away and the taxi cost £20. The infrastructure in KL is really good, with multiple lanes, tolls and underground and over ground trains and numerous buses. Crossing the road was tricky due to the number of mopeds which also blocked the pavements which in themselves were a bit of a trip hazard.

We stayed near Bukit Nanas and the Street food was at Bukit Bintang

We left our luggage in the hotel and went to a mall over the road for food and drink, then on foot we explored the local area. After checking in and unpacking, we headed up to the roof top pool. 

Our hotel and pool viewed from KL Tower

Hotel roof top view

View from the bedroom

We went out in the evening to the largest street food area in Asia. We ate there two nights and the food was amazing. Each restaurant had a frog menu that we avoided and the streets stank of Durian fruit, which I can confirm tastes as bad as it smells, like rotten onions.

There were warning signs everywhere for fines for bringing Durian fruit into hotel rooms, on trains etc.

The second day we got a taxi to the Batu Caves. I'd recommend going as early as you can, due to the humidity and by the time we left at midday the place was filling up with tourist buses.

A couple of things I'd advise you don't do at the Batu Caves. Use the toilets or eat the food, it wasn't the hygienist of places. Buying bottled drinks or wrapped ice creams wasn't a good idea either as there were 100's of monkeys swopping in and grabbing items from tourists, literally straight out the mouths of small children, it was quite frightening.

There's no charge to go up the steps or into the caves, but a fee for entering the temples. You didn't need to wear any special clothing on the steps or caves, only in the temples where legs and arms couldn't be on show.

There were instagrammers everywhere trying to tell us not to walk up certain parts to ruin their photos

We caught the train back to our hotel, which cost around £2, the taxi out was about £5.

The third and final day was spent visiting the KL Tower, a bird sanctuary and a butterfly park. it rained but it was very welcomed, no need for waterproofs. We also had fun at the Upside Down House.

Upside down

The right way up

Taxi to the airport and a 14 hour flight home. We'd fly Air Malaysia again, but would make sure we bought our own food.