Thumbs up?!

I started this blog as a way to keep a permanent record of family life for the Prices.  I overshare frequently on Facebook, but I wanted something a bit more structured and formal and forever.  However family life often gets in the way – and whilst I seem to manage to review the books I’ve read – other things pass by without being permanently recorded.  One such thing was the husband’s accident in July.

It was our middle daughter’s 6th birthday party – we’d had a very successful visit from the ‘Exotic Zoo‘ with a variety of pets, which the children and the grown ups (especially Mrs C as you can see from the photo!) really enjoyed.

As the kids were having fun, quite a few people had stayed behind.  Mr Price was pouring a glass of wine and someone bumped his arm.  In a totally freak way, the bottle smashed the glass and the glass cut his hand.  Thankfully one of the class Mums is a doctor, she had a look and said he had to go to hospital (she gave his suggestion of sticking it together with super glue short shrift!)  Now most of us had been steadily drinking all afternoon (I do find that makes a children’s party far more bearable) and so only one person in the entire party could drive – so she very kindly took him off to A&E for a few stitches.

A&E on a Saturday night is always busy – but they amused themselves sending us photographs.

Now Mr P had ordered a new chimnea for the garden (which had been put together that afternoon) and he was VERY EXCITED about it – but when he was still not back a few hours later, some of the other Dads decided to give it its inaugural lighting.  Sending photos of this to the hospital did not go down well…….#chimneavirginitybroken

Chimnea

It was getting close to midnight – and our wonderful emergency responder friend needed to get back to her own family – so she left Mr P at the hospital, I sent all of my kids (and thankfully my sister, brother in law and their kids) to bed here, and hopped in a cab to the hospital.  I have to say the husband did get some funny looks when he’d swapped the brunette who’d sat with him for hours for a blonde replacement after midnight!!

When he was eventually seen – 8 hours after arriving – by a doctor they were concerned that both tendons in his thumb were severed – so slightly more serious than a cut needing a stitch or two…..  He was kept in ready for an op the next day, and I was sent home by Mr P to tell the children what had happened.

I arrived back at 4am and the house looked like some kind of bomb had gone off in the back garden and kitchen – and the event shelter was outside in the front garden still.  I found my sister in bed with my 4 year old who refuses to sleep on her own (above and beyond the usual call of Auntie duties!) and settled down for a few hours sleep.  I then fully briefed the kids and headed back to the hospital – running Race for Life, which had been the plan for that day, now cancelled.

When I arrived at the hospital the husband was pretty out of it on painkillers and on a drip and all ready for surgery which happened later that day (thankfully I’d thought to take the new 6 year old’s thank you letters to the hospital with me so my time wasn’t completely wasted #efficiency!)  I left him in the hospital over night (at least now he knew how to work the bed and call button – no one had shown him when he’d been moved to a ward at 5am, and having never been in hospital before he didn’t have a clue!)

Whilst I’d been at the hospital my wonderful friends in the village had been and helped my sister sort out the house and garden (and loaded up recycling bins across the area with the empties!) and my sister and brother in law had done a sterling job with the kids and handed over to my parents mid afternoon.

The following morning I did the school / nursery runs and headed back to the hospital.  By this point Mr P (the youngest on the ward by about 3 decades) had made great mates with his roomies and they were all having a bit of banter!  Apparently John by the window hadn’t stayed up past 10pm in years, and Arthur asked Mr P if he had any of those ‘blue movies’ on his phone!!  What Mr P hadn’t shared with them was the fact that he’d woken up in the morning and thought he’d pooed himself!  Turned out it was actually a couple of Minstrels that he’d dropped and they’d melted on the sheets……

We escaped later that day (having been told he could leave at 9.30am it was 4pm before he finally escaped – thank goodness for lovely friends collecting the kids from school for us again!) and there in followed many weeks of hand therapy / physio / consultant appointments which we are still in the midst of.

The surgeon had initially wanted to sign him off for 6 weeks – but with your own business that just doesn’t really work – and the fact that we were on holiday for a chunk of that time should have helped.  Although perhaps the water rides and jet skiing weren’t the best call…….

atlantis

The strap marks from the supports look hilarious – and he’s claimed a number of times that they’re from his tennis sweatbands……

And when the OT suggested he got a finger massager I immediately headed over to Amazon to search – and boy did I get some interesting suggestions!!

After weeks of OT work, physio and general exercises he is definitely on the mend.  He is unlikely to ever get full movement back – but the work of the wonderful NHS staff means at least he still has his thumb attached.

And it’s plastic glasses for parties henceforth!

 

 

 

 

 

Vibrator

 

Book Review: Playing Grace by Hazel Osmond

playing-grace

I have read a couple of Hazel Osmond books recently (Who’s Afraid of Mr Wolfe / The Mysterious Miss Mayhew) and thoroughly enjoyed them, so started this with high hopes.

Here is the Amazon blurb:

“Grace Surtees has everything carefully under control – her work life, her home life and her love life – especially her love life. But then her boss hires Tate Saunders, a brash American, to spice up the gallery tours his company provides. Messy and fond of breaking rules, Tate explodes into her tidy existence like a paintball, and Grace hates everything about him… doesn’t she? Because, for Grace, the alternative would be simply too terrifying to contemplate: to love Tate rather than hate him would mean leaping out of her comfort zone, and Grace’s devotion to order hides some long-kept secrets… secrets she’s sure someone like Tate Saunders could never accept or understand.”

However, I must confess that when I started this I really didn’t like it.  I found it really hard to get into (whether that’s the subject matter – which is art, and not really my bag) or the character (I found Grace really pathetic and annoying) and I just couldn’t get into it. This may also have been because I’d just read THE BEST BOOK EVER that I am not allowed to blog about yet as it’s not out until 2017 – but I think anything after that would have been a let down (keep your eyes peeled for ‘Eleanor Oliphant’ next year is all I can say!)

Anyway – I kept reading a bit and then putting it down and just not getting my teeth into it all.  But, I don’t like to be beaten by anything (I persevered with The Goldfinch for goodness sake!) and so kept going back to it.  In the end it was ok – and I did want to know what would happen to Grace and the other characters.

I guessed fairly early on what her boss’s secret was and felt that element of the storyline was really dragged out.  I liked the change in the relationship between Grace and Tate and how that concluded.

But overall, definitely not my favourite Hazel Osmond book at all.

 

 

 

Book Review: Dead Heat by Lee Stone (and James Patterson)

dead-heat

I read a previous Bookshot by the James Patterson / Lee Stone (old school friend) combo earlier in the year and reviewed it here.  That was set during Wimbledon – and I read it with the tennis tournament as my backdrop.  This time the sporting event in question was the Rio Olympics, and I read the books straight afterwards, so that helped build the back story / atmosphere.

Now, when I downloaded them on to my Kindle they were in 4 individual books – which I thought was a strange concept – and this view was only backed up when I started reading – as there was no way each segment would standalone!  However, when going back on to Amazon to download a photo for this blog piece – I can see that it’s now offered as a single book, which is far more sensible and mitigates my only complaint!

This is what the Amazon blurb had to say:

“It’s the day of the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and excitement is at fever pitch.

But a key athlete has gone missing and Detective Rafael Carvalho, on the brink of retirement, is assigned the case.

When the athlete suddenly appears at the ceremony, it seems the case is solved. But Carvalho soon discovers that he has returned with the deadliest of intentions.”

I immediately liked the 2 main cop characters – although very different people – and thought they were straight away given a good back story and personalities.

The plot twists and turns dramatically involving many different sports / countries / issues – and it’s not evident straight away who is behind this.

It builds to a huge climax which was really exciting – and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I read the entire story on a flight from Munich to Birmingham – so it really is a shot of a book not a long drink – but sometimes, that is just what you want!  Not everything has to be The Goldfinch (thank goodness!!)

But, I really enjoy Lee’s writing – and hope that these Book Shots are just the start – and we get some longer books to get our teeth in to in the future – just wondering what sporting event he’ll pick next?!?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step away Bridget, they’re my pants!

bridget-jones-the-edge-of-reason-2004

Back long before Bridget Jones was having her pants removed by Daniel Cleaver, I was already a fan of the control pant.  They were  ‘special occasion wear’ to make me look slimmer when ‘out-out’.  I have to say that a few times (ok, most times I wore them!) they ended up in my handbag by the end of the night, as after you’d been to the loo and wrestled them off and back on a few times (which happened with alarming regularity when you were a 90s ladette drinking pints with the boys) it just wasn’t worth the effort, and so going home commando was the better option. Honestly – life as a trainee accountant was life on the edge!!

Anyway – over the years I’ve been through many iterations of the control briefs in different shapes and colours.  Some even had poppers ‘down below’ reminiscent of a late 80s body suit!  Which was a) a bit dangerous after you’d been drinking and you were trying to do up the poppers without trapping anything in them or b) you completely forgot to do it up altogether and it ended up working its way out of the top of your jeans (a surprisingly frequent sight to be seen in nightclubs throughout the era!!)

But 4 children and 4 stone later you find even more foundations are required  – and my current Spanx go from bra strap to knee.  However these new ones have a magic invention – a cotton double gusset* area so you don’t have to wrestle them off to go to the toilet!

Now my husband didn’t understand what I meant – so after wiggling in to them on Saturday I cocked my leg up to demonstrate and he is still traumatised!!  His exact words were ‘Oh my God, I think I just saw an ewok’!!!

 

But I can report they did the job brilliantly – and I managed to use the double gusset perfectly all day at a wedding on Saturday and so didn’t end up with a moist* gusset at all!  I think you might need to be careful to sit in a ladylike manner (which obvs I do at all times) for fear of doing a Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct otherwise – but given they are down to your knees, you’re not exactly going to be wearing a mini skirt (or if you do, you will look very odd!)

I am definitely ‘plus size’ and these give me a bit more body confidence – and they also negate VPL (visible panty line) issues, which even  the skinniest of people can suffer with {evil laugh}.  They also give amusing anecdotes so that everyone can laugh at you over Pimms and canapes!

I should point out that this is not a sponsored post, I have paid full price for all of my underwear – and will definitely be adding to my Spanx collection very soon.

 

 

* words I hate

 

 

 

Winning at School Shoe Shopping is Winning at Parenting

School shoes

‘Shopping for School Shoes’ is a topic to instil fear into most parents – and with the 4th child starting school in September this meant buying new shoes for all 4.  School shoe shopping expeditions in the past have resulted in tears from children, me and, I suspect, the shop assistants – so I decided to divide and conquer, and take the children in pairs to reduce the stress (or prolong the agony – depending how optimistic we were feeling!!)

I’d taken the eldest 2 shoe shopping in Worcester – as a practice run on the train for their new schools in September (this also provided a new haunt for Pokémon go hunting – which is a good motivational tool this summer!)  After texting a friend who is proficient in shopping in Worcester (amongst other places!) we found the shoe shop she recommended and with frightening efficiency (and a bit of Googling of uniform requirements) pairs were bought for the 13 and 11 year olds with absolutely no tears or shouting #miracle.

I was concerned that this had lulled me in to a false sense of security, and hence buying shoes for the younger 2 was going to be horrific, so we headed off to our school shoe shopping regular haunt of Humphries in the Kingfisher Centre in Redditch.  Youngest child chose some with absolutely no stress at all (helped by the fact that the shop assistant had the same name as her) so the only one left was the 6 year old – who does have a reputation for being ‘feisty’…..   This had all of the hallmarks of being the nightmare.

The lovely assistant brought out 3 pairs in her size – and there was one Startrite pair I particularly liked, so I used all of my ‘mother of 4 kids’ wiles and went for the whole reverse psychology technique.  I told her the ones I liked were far too grown up, and her big sister hadn’t had a pair like that until she was at least 9 years old, so at 6, she had to chose one of the other 2 pairs.  Of course, that meant the Startrite ones I liked were clearly the most desirable shoes ever.  After some umming and ahhing I ‘gave in’ and let her have the ‘grown up’ ones!!

Winning at school shoe shopping is winning at parenting.  #boom!

 

 

Book Review: The Mysterious Miss Mayhew by Hazel Osmond

The Mysterious Miss Mayhew

 

“Tom doesn’t need any more women in his life. He already has a five-year-old daughter, an estranged wife who keeps blocking his efforts to get divorced and a mother who might be having an affair with the vicar. So when Fran Mayhew turns up – years younger and with all the tact of a dinosaur with its backside on fire – she’s just another tricky person to deal with . . . And what’s she doing in his remote part of Northumberland crawling around in graveyards anyway?
But soon Tom discovers that there’s more to the mysterious Miss Mayhew than meets the eye – and that it’s not just his heart he’s in danger of losing.”

I read my first Hazel Osmond book a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it (and very excitedly got a tweet from the author – I am easily excited!!) and so I started my second of her books with high hopes and was not disappointed!!

It was completely different to the Mr Wolfe book – but that’s definitely not a bad thing.  There are an eclectic mix of characters – but they all fit together really well.  I loved Hattie – Tom’s 5 year old daughter – and with a 4 and a 6 year old myself empathised quite a lot with some of her escapades!

The intertwining of stories also works really well – with a mixture of intrigue, romance, suspense etc.  A couple of times it felt like the story had concluded – and then there was a further development!

As well as the traditional romances – between numerous pairs of characters, it also looks at extended family relationships – and the one between Tom and his brother is particularly lovely.

It’s not quite as rammed full of sex as Mr Wolfe is – but there’s still enough, and again, it’s very realistically written – we’re not talking 50 Shades here at all!

I particularly liked the fast forwarded ending, so you could see how things had panned on a year down the line – I often finish a book wanting to know what’s happened – so I LOVED that we found out about everyone.

I will definitely be downloading more of Hazel Osmond’s back catalogue soon!

 

 

 

Dubai – 2 days in!

We are in Dubai for a few days – and whilst we are regulars here, we’ve never been in August before – and it is proper hot!!  Thankfully not as humid as Florida this time last year – but still in the 40s.  Even with flip flops on it’s too hot to walk on the sand, and going in to the sea feels like someone has been weeing in there for days #gross

** disclaimer – I don’t think they actually have, it’s just super warm **

Dubai afternoon

Anyway – couple of totally random things to brain dump so I’ve got them saved somewhere.

We were at Wild Wadi, the water park attached to our hotel, yesterday afternoon, and I was chatting to a fellow Mum in the kids’ pool – I was in a swimsuit, she was in a burkhini, and we chatted about the kids / weather etc – turns out she’s from Small Heath – about 3 miles from where I grew up in Birmingham!  #smallworld

Then, as I’m trying to get out of the wave pool at the same water park the husband announces (ever so slightly taking the p*ss) ‘Ooh, you look like Halle Berry’ to which the 11 year old responds ‘Why does Mum look like Mary Berry?’  I was not eating cake at the time I promise!!  (And clearly the husband totally resembles Daniel Craig at all times!!)

I am sure there were more things I wanted to record, but I’m struggling to remember – probably the heat!!  Therefore expect further updates in the coming days.  I’m off to finish reading Red magazine in the sunshine with a complimentary glass of champagne!

 

 

 

Book Review: Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran

Moranifesto

I should confess to being a big Caitlin Moran fan.  I loved her previous books, and went to see her live when she was touring ‘How To Build A Girl. It was brilliant – and resulted in me having a t-shirt made for a friend that said ‘Never Regret Cheese’ on it – which a) maybe you had to be there to understand and b) is a useful motto to live by!  I laughed a lot at the TV series Caitlin wrote with her sister Caroline – and am properly cross that Channel 4 haven’t commissioned a 3rd series.  I am definitely more conservative (with a big and little c) than Ms Moran – so was slightly concerned that this book might be a bit too right on, left wing and trendy for a 42 year old accountant mother of 4, but I didn’t let that stop me.

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

” ‘I’ve lived through ten iOS upgrades on my Mac – and that’s just something I use to muck about on Twitter. Surely capitalism is due an upgrade or two?’

When Caitlin Moran sat down to choose her favourite pieces for her new book she realised that they all seemed to join up. Turns out, it’s the same old problems and the same old ass-hats.

Then she thought of the word ‘Moranifesto’, and she knew what she had to do…

This is Caitlin’s engaging and amusing rallying call for our times. Combining the best of her recent columns with lots of new writing unique to this book, Caitlin deals with topics as pressing and diverse as 1980s swearing, benefits, boarding schools, and why the internet is like a drunken toddler.

And whilst never afraid to address the big issues of the day – such as Benedict Cumberbatch and duffel coats – Caitlin also makes a passionate effort to understand our 21st century society and presents us with her ‘Moranifesto’ for making the world a better place.

The polite revolution starts here! Please.”

The book started with some columns that had already been published – and some of which I’d read – but they were all great.  I particularly enjoyed the ones based around the Olympics of 2012 – as I was reading the book with Rio 2016 as a backdrop.  The book was written pre Brexit – but remembering the summer of 2012 and how everyone was in love with London was even more emotive when contrasted with the problems that the EU referendum has caused with shocking racism and intolerance in the summer of 2016.  It was also published pre the death of David Bowie – but Caitlin’s love for Mr Bowie shines through in many different chapters!

As I mentioned above – I was nervous that the political bits wouldn’t be my bag at all – but this could not have been further from the truth. I would consider myself fairly middling politically (there’s a whole chapter on people thinking this about themselves actually – and analogies with swimming speeds and middle lane drivers!) and I agree with a lot that Caitlin writes about helping others out – and how this is often the way with ‘normal’ people (not smug politicians who grew up at boarding school!).  I am lucky enough to live in a great village outside Birmingham (this is not code for Wolverhampton, it is a North Worcestershire village) and the sense of community there is excellent – with people helping each other out frequently with matters large and small.

I’m all for capitalism and people making money (as long as they pay the appropriate tax on it!) but there also needs to be a place for a welfare system that supports people who need it.  Just because I can pay for (some of, at the moment) my kids to go to private school, doesn’t mean I don’t also believe in the state system – and the same goes for the NHS v private healthcare which we as a family use both of.  I know I’m lucky and have choices – but the husband and I also work damn hard for this ‘luck’ too, and the ‘luck’ means we can be in a position to help others out as well. People who’ve done well for themselves shouldn’t sit in their ivory tower counting their pennies far away from the real world (she says, looking out of the window on holiday at the view of a 7 star hotel………) but should want to ‘put back’ a bit too.  And I think in this, Ms Moran and I have similar views.

Wow – a book review that’s gone a bit political (don’t worry, I’ll be back to chick lit next I promise!!)

So let’s all read the ‘Moranifesto’ and start a polite revolution, if we all do, who knows what benefits we could reap!

 

 

Book Review: The Invitation by Lucy Foley

I really enjoyed Lucy Foley’s debut novel – The Book of Lost and Found – and so was delighted when a friend let me borrow a copy of her second book ‘The Invitation’ to bring on holiday.

The Invitation

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“Rome, 1950s. One fateful night, Hal Jacobs meets Stella, a beautiful society darling from New York. To Hal, flailing in the post-war darkness, she’s a point of light. They’re from different worlds, but both trying and failing to carve out a new life.

Stella vanishes all too quickly, until a curious invitation from an Italian Contessa reels her back into Hal’s world. They join the Contessa’s collection of luminaries on a yacht headed for Cannes film festival.

The scene on board is a fiction – scars from the war can be hidden yet not healed. Everyone is hiding a dark history, but Stella’s secrets run the deepest. Compelled by her fragile beauty, Hal is determined to bring back the girl she once was, the girl who’s been confined to history.

The Invitation is an epic love story that will transport you from the glamour of the Italian Riviera, to the darkness of war-torn Spain, and to a golden – if rather haunted – time.”

Now I’m not normally a fan of historical novels – and would not pick one by choice – but was willing to give this the benefit of the doubt – and was very pleased I did.  I really enjoyed it from chapter 1.

It is set in different parts of Italy (and occasionally surrounding countries) and describes them beautifully and very vividly – particularly the chapters that move along the Italian Riveria – it’s definitely inspired me to want to visit that area of Italy.

As with Ms Foley’s previous book – it moves between different time periods, and different characters holding the narrative, seamlessly and adds to the epic nature of the book.  I really felt involved in the book and in the fate of everyone – particularly Hal.

There are some great twists and turns – particularly towards the end – which I couldn’t possibly give away, but are very enjoyable.  I also liked that there was a proper ending with loose ends suitably tied up.

It feels well written and structured – which might sound a bit geeky, but I like that in a book.  I felt like real care was taken with the descriptions and the flow of the story – it feels like a grown up’s book – but in a good way, not a fuddy duddy way!

So all in all, yet another great book from Lucy Foley – and I look forward to her next one already.