Wednesday, 21 June 2017

My Favourite Things 5

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Another month has passed me by and with it came both sunshine and storms, both literally and metaphorically. How poetic! The more astute among you will note how late this is. Time got away with me, ngl. My June favourites will be up next week but, until then, let's cast our minds back a little.

In May, I was coveting a refreshing beverage, an old bit of clothing and time with the floofs. What were you enjoying last month? 

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ROSE COLOURED BOY 
If April was all about Hard Times, May was all about a dizzy mix of Told You So and Rose Coloured Boy. The latter is a bouncy track that is perfect for hairbrush singalongs, due to its punchy pick-up-in-a-couple-of-listens lyrics and The Go! Team style screams. If it were 2005, my MSN personal message would definitely be, 'I've forgotten what was left of the optimist in me'. That, pals, is high praise. 

I need to listen to the album a little more before I declare further favourites but, for now, I'll continue my 3 song loop. 

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SUMMER SHOES
After a spell of hot weather took us by surprise in early May, I went in search of some summer-friendly shoes. I'd been eyeing up clogs for a fair few years, but couldn't stretch to a pair of Hasbeens, so I took to the internet to find a pair that I could even vaguely afford. I eventually settled on the Low Wood Brown Oiled Nubucks from Lotta from Stockholm. I'm not one for tan, usually, but I figured it was a colour that went with most others and they had Lyzi's approval.

I've worn them several times over the past two months, styled up with a smock dress and pair of jazzy socks, and I am really loving them. They're comfy and easy to walk in and they let your feet breathe. If you're looking for a clog-related bargain, Lotta have a great sales and seconds section for you to peruse! Oh, and they also have a line for littles and a Vegan line too. 


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CUT TO THE FEELING
Carly Rae showed up last month to announce the true start of summer with fresh-out-the-oven banger 'Cut To The Feeling'. Just when we all thought Carly Bae had swept every little strand of delicious pop from the E.MO.TION floor, she comes out with this offering that Pop Justice referred to as being 'epoch-defining and pivotal in our understanding of the human condition'.

What a woman. What a song. 

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CHAI CONCENTRATE
I found myself at a local food and drink market one weekend and ended up returning home with a bottle of this chai concentrate from a company called Henny and Joe's that are based in Bath. 


I've been spooning this stuff into tumblers of cool apple juice and jugs of milk in order to stay refreshed in the warmer weather. It is so good! They use 100% natural ingredients, have won multiple awards, and their products are also Vegan friendly, so everyone can hop onboard the bandwagon. 

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THREE DOG DAYS
On one of the sunny afternoons, we let all three dogs hang out together and cause chaos for a while. We strolled down to the beach, had a lengthy game of catch and then returned to laze around in the sunny garden. Poppy spent about 90% of the time playing kiss chase with Woody. Jessie thinks they're both ridiculous. She is probably right.  

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VINTAGE SHIRT
My Wrangler shirt saw a lot of action during the month of May, especially when the weather wasn't entirely sure what it was doing, so I thought that it was only right that I shared it with you. I picked this jazzy little number up from Chinese Laundry in Goodramgate when I swanned off to York back in February (check out my guide to York if you haven't already) and it has been a staple in my wardrobe ever since. 

Everyone has their 'thing', right?! Some people like shoes. Some people like bags. I like shirts that look like they've fallen out of your eccentric-aunt-that-disgraces-herself-at-family-gatherings' wardrobe. 


taskmaster monthly favourites blog vivatramp

TASKMASTER S4
Taskmaster is one of those shows that unites my entire family in the living room whenever it is on. Each week, the celebrity contestants are set a series of bizarre and comedic tasks that they have to complete individually in hopes of scoring points against their fellow competitors. The results are usually quite something

It's creative, light-hearted and I have decided I want to be Lolly Adefope's friend. Check it out on Youtube or wherever. 

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GRANDMA'S CAKE!
Grandma makes a great Victoria Sponge. I like to eat it. I can't expand much further. 

Although, bit of trivia for you, she recently had to bake an entire cake just for my consumption because she made a meat-based bet with me and lost. If you're going to make bets with OAPs, make them worth your while.

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FAMILY TIME
I caught up with my Dad's side of the family at the start of the month which meant holding a baby post-poo whilst her Dad got the changing gear, and setting my Grandma right when she got me mixed up with my Uncle Allan. After hiring a car at Bristol Airport, just don't ask, we drove up to Swindon for some BBQ food, a lot of gooey brownies and cuddles with my cousin's two littles. It was great.


I came bearing Aristocat-shaped gifts because, at the age of nearly 25, I decided that my Disney toys would have a much better life with the girls than me. It was like the ending of Toy Story 3. Very emotional indeed. I gave Ava a couple of the bigger Marie toys and, luckily enough, I found a little dinky one in my stash that was the perfect size for Annabel's little 6 month old hands. I got a really sweet text from my Aunty the other day to let me know that Ava has been taking her cats around with her everywhere so my good deed was well-received. 

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WRITING MY POEMS DOWN
I decided to pull my most beautiful journal off the shelf and write up the poems that I've written so far within its pages. It has made me realise just how much I would love to physically hold a collection of my own poetry in book form one day. This journal, for those wondering, came from Anthropologie, like everything else that is beautiful in the world. 




+ THINGS OF NOTE
• This thread on acts of kindness was really wonderful
• Black Heart Creatives released a new collection of Twin Peaks inspired acrylic jewellery
• Bethany has started a podcast where she interviews her friends, entitled 'Hello Friend' - including an episode with Alice off Twitter where they talk summer reads
• This thread on the origins of magical realism was insightful 
• The ridiculously talented Maddy has opened an Etsy shop full of prints
Lily creates online content on history, sexuality, disability, and other great things, both on Twitter and on Youtube. She has recently set up a Patreon and a Ko-fi account for people to support her. If you like what she does, and are able to, do consider supporting.
• my beautiful friend Ella started a Youtube channel for her arty vloggy videos
Chloe is saving for a trip to NZ. You could help her if you fancy one of her ridiculous portraits...
 Laura finally got to experience her second wedding in Cyprus and she looked beautiful


+ MAY BLOG POSTS
my monthly things that make me happy list
• a book haul ft. three new reads 
shared some uber cute photos from a sunny puppy walking adventure 
more book reviews & a tbr


And those were a few of my favourite things in May! What have you been enjoying lately? If you'd like to, you can scroll through a selection of my other favourite things.


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Saturday, 17 June 2017

Book Haul feat. Linda Grant

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Last month, I took myself up town for an hour or so just to get out of the house. A lot of the time I feel fatigued and sore but there does come a point where I just need to see new faces and fill my face with bakery pastry, y'know?! I went round the charity shops in the hopes of finding summer clothes that I could afford but, naturally, I came back with two books instead. 

In May I bought two secondhand books, one by an author I have read previously and one that I picked up on a whim. 



surfacing margaret atwood book blog books vivatramp uk
Part detective novel, part psychological thriller, Surfacing is the story of a young woman who returns to northern Quebec, to the remote island of her childhood, with her lover and two friends, to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her father. Flooded with memories, she begins to realize that going home means entering not only another place, but another time. As the wild island exerts its elemental hold and she is submerged in the language of the wilderness, she discovers that what she is really searching for is her own past.

I read Atwood's Oryx and Crake back in 2014 and enjoyed it, calling it a 'sobering study of human arrogance'. However, I have yet to read any of her other novels, despite also owning The Handmaid's Tale and being 50% sure that I read Cat's Eye in Sixth Form, so when I saw this on the shelf for a mere pound I thought I'd buy it and save it for a summer's afternoon. 

Since Surfacing was only her second novel, it'll be interesting to see what her writing style was like before she was renowned for her piercing speculative fiction. A fair few things grab me about the plot, the wild setting in particular. I'm going to try and read this soon. 

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In the early Seventies a glamorous and androgynous couple known collectively as Evie/Stevie appear out of nowhere on the isolated concrete campus of a new university. To a group of teenagers experimenting with radical ideas they seem blown back from the future, unsettling everything and uncovering covert desires. But the varnished patina of youth and flamboyant self-expression hides deep anxieties and hidden histories. For Adele, with the most to conceal, Evie/Stevie become a lifelong obsession, as she examines what happened on the night of her own twentieth birthday and her friends' complicity in their fate. A set of school exercise books might reveal everything, but they have been missing for nearly forty years. From summers in Cornwall to London in the twenty-first century, long after they have disappeared, Evie/Stevie go on challenging everyone's ideas of what their lives should turn out to be.


Linda Grant was on my radar due to her latest novel, The Dark Circle, being on the shortlist for this year's Bailey's Prize for Women's Fiction so when I spied this on the shelves I decided to see what it was about. Obsession, talks of a campus, a story told over several decades, I'm all over it. 

I love a little secondhand bookshopping - so therapeutic and it makes book buying accessible to me. What books have you bought or rented from the library recently? If you'd like to scroll through all of my book blog posts then you can. Or, alternatively, you could just flick through my book hauls instead.

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This post features affiliate links. If you buy the books through the links I've provided I'll receive a 5% commission to put back into the blog. 
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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Fyne Court, Somerset

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A couple of weekends ago, I bundled one of my best friends, my family, Poppy, and a picnic, into the car and had a sweet couple of hours at Fyne Court. 

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We took a stroll around some of the grounds, ate picnic food, got stuck behind a tractor for way too long and cooed at Poppy being cute and small. It was pretty wonderful. 

If you're in the area, Fyne Court is a nice little spot to hold a picnic with friends and family. They have all-ability walking trails, including ramped access, play trails with build-your-own dens and you're allowed to take dogs providing they're on a lead. 

It was a great way to slow my mind down a little, as it seems to be running at 100mph right now. It was also great for Poppy to meet her dogmother, Lyzi. They enjoyed lots of snuggles and I'm pretty sure Pops tried to go in for a fair few snogs! 
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Remind me to spend more afternoons like this, please. It was so needed.

I have blogged lots of little trips over the years and you can scroll through all of my other adventures


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Monday, 12 June 2017

Book Reviews feat. Chibundu Onuzo & TBR

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My reading was horrendous during the month of May because my mind was, and still is, elsewhere. I'm finding it even harder than usual to focus which really takes the piss because my chronic fatigue only allocates me a tiny window to actually absorb information at the best of times. I'm hoping to pull myself out of this malaise by making sure I spend more time focusing on things that I'm passionate about and less time feeling petrified at the state of the world. 

In May, I read one book. Lets see what I thought about it, eh.


READ. 

welcome to lagos chinbundu onuzo book bloggers vivatramp
FINISHED: 11/05/17 | PAGES: 368  | ISBN: 0571268943 
Deep in the Niger Delta, officer Chike Ameobi deserts the army and sets out on the road to Lagos. He is soon joined by a wayward private, a naive militant, a vulnerable young woman and a runaway middle-class wife. The shared goals of this unlikely group: freedom and new life. As they strive to find their places in the city, they become embroiled in a political scandal. Ahmed Bakare, editor of the failing Nigerian Journal, is determined to report the truth. Yet government minister Chief Sandayo will do anything to maintain his position. Trapped between the two, they are forced to make a life-changing decision.

A novel of disparate people with disparate ideas, Welcome to Lagos is a tale of many things - friendship, redemption, political shit storms - but mostly it's about being courageous, whether that's real pained courage in the face of hardship or feigned ass-saving courage when things don't work out the way they were supposed to. The intensity of Lagos as a city, and the common desire of each individual in the group to find a better life for themselves, engulf the novel and carry it to its climax. However, I wasn't completely taken by this novel. 

Whilst it was well crafted, and clearly written straight from Onuzo's heart, I wouldn't really rush to re-read it. I think, as a reader, I can sometimes be quite plot driven and I didn't feel like the story took me on the adventure I necessarily wanted at the time of reading. That said, I'll keep an eye out for what Onuzo writes next. 

RATING: 


TO BE READ. 

I'm making it my business to focus more of my time on things that I'm passionate about (such a novel idea) so that means more reading! In the interests of reading a little more, I'm pulling a few books off my shelves that I feel like I could easily sink my teeth into. 


Carol has been sat near the top of my to read list since I acquired it back in November. It comes highly recommended and I fancy a nice bit of queer romance to pull me out of a slumpy few months. The edition I have is also a floppy paperback which is incredibly satisfying. 


Animals has sat on my shelves minding its own business since July 2015 and the other day I felt compelled to pull it down after book maven Alice mentioned it in her Twitter books thread. It sounds as if it could be really funny and lord knows I need a laugh right now! (edit: I have since finished this and loved it.)

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THE POISON TREE BY ERIN KELLY 
Mystery thrillers are usually an excellent way to slide yourself back into reading because they tend to be all-absorbing. Alice and Bethany raved about The Poison Tree on the Hello Friend podcast and I thought it'd be a good way to ease myself back in. Stephen King even likened this to du Maurier's Rebecca, one of my favourite books of all time, so that fills me with hope.

I'm all set for a much better reading month! 

As always, if you have a bit of spare time, you can stick around and scroll through all of my book blog posts. Or, alternatively, you could just flick through my book reviews instead. 

Links to books are affiliate links. If you don't fancy any of these books but would still like to use my link to purchase some books with, please use my general Book Depository link. Thanks, pals! Books marked with an asterisk were sent to me by the publisher for an honest review. 



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Saturday, 3 June 2017

Things That Make Me Happy 71

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bright colours against blue sky
making a start with savings
discount codes
apple jelly, at breakfast
reoccurring dreams

(photo credit)


I have been sharing things that make me happy lists for years. If you'd like to read some more, you can scroll through the archive.


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