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jules.34

jules.34

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Always feel that I am at work!! Out of work, though, I spend lots of time with my teenage son, reading and crafting!

Reviews written

since 05/03/2006

306

The Princess Matilda Comes Home - Shane Spall 31/08/2017

The Princess Matilda Comes Home

The Princess Matilda Comes Home - Shane Spall I had originally ordered this book from my local library after watching a rerun of Auf Wiedersehen Pet and wanting to find out more about what the actors were doing now. This book has not been written by Timothy Spall, but by his wife Shane. This book is based on a television series that the Spalls had done about their journeys on their barge. Their barge has been named after their granddaughter Matilda. The book is set in the present day with Shane recording a record of each place they get to on the boat. She also talks about the relationships that they build up with people while they are on the boat, such as the cameramen who film for the television series, as well as people that they meet while they are in each town/village. She also mentions the work that they put in on board the boat - it is a lot harder than I would have realised. Tim spends a lot of time plotting charts and sounds a very able seaman, but doesn't seem to have much faith in his seafaring. As well as the present day, the book also skips back to 1996/1997 when Tim had been very ill with leukemia. Shane had kept a diary of his illness and throughout the book, it will jump from the present day back to a passage from Shane's diary from throughout the illness. The beginning part of the book also jumps back at some stages to Shane's first marriage. I think Shane did all this intentionally so that the readers could see how much Tim meant to her and how much his illness affected her. Her first husband sounds ...

The Secrets of Happiness - Lucy Diamond 21/07/2017

The Secrets of Happiness

The Secrets of Happiness - Lucy Diamond I have read Lucy Diamond books before and have really enjoyed them so when I saw this one in my local library, I thought I would give it a try. This book revolved around two main characters - Rachel and Rebecca, step sisters who haven't seen each other for years. Something happens to Rachel which leads to Rebecca (Becky) coming back into her life. The trauma that Rachel had has led her to depend on Becky and to begin with you think that it is only Becky helping Rachel. Becky is in fact helping herself too to begin with in the book you have a feeling that she is a bit of a hopeless case and has lost direction a bit. By the time Rachel no longer needs Becky, Becky has found her direction, and she does actually enjoy being with her sister again and her nieces and nephew. Rachel has been enjoying spending time with Becky too. I think that I enjoyed the way the Becky stepped up to her responsibilities of an aunt - she had had very little dealings previously with her nieces and her nephew so did not know anything about bringing them up. She did become a really good aunt and confidante to them, with them enjoying talking to her in a way that they wouldn't have done with their mum. Becky was also good at sussing out who was trustworthy and genuinely interested in her sister and who was being nosey (such as her neighbour). My favourite part of the book was when the nosey neighbour in question got a taste of her own medicine. I did really enjoy this book - it totally live up to the ...

A Northern Soul - Jimmy Nail 23/06/2017

Jimmy Nail

A Northern Soul - Jimmy Nail I have been a fan of Jimmy Nail since his Auf Wiedersehen Pet days so when I saw this book on ebay, I thought I would buy it. I thought that the only part I would be interested in was Auf Wiedersehen Pet and while I did love this part, there is actually a lot more to the book than this. The book starts by covering Jimmy Nail's upbringing, where he stays, his friends, his school, his family life etc. From an early age, he was interested in music in a big way, more than acting. He never had any big designs to be an actor - in fact, when he was young he wanted to be an English teacher and that may have happened had the teacher who marked his 11-plus not marked him down deliberately (meaning he couldn't go to a school supporting a university degree). That teacher probably never realised that his actions would go on to give Nail much greater success, although I can't help wondering what he would have been like as a teacher. I had read that Auf Wiedersehen Pet was his first big television role and his wife encouraged him to go for it. That's another thing I ended up wondering about - what would have happened if he hadn't gone for it - each actor in this wonderful show helped to make it what it was and if Jimmy Nail hadn't gone for it, would it still have been the same? After Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Jimmy wrote the Spender series. He went to America to stay with Ian La Francais (co-writer of Auf Wiedersehen Pet) for a year to write the first series. While he says he is nothing ...

Mystery Shopping 18/05/2017

Mystery Shopping

Mystery Shopping Mystery Shopping Background Mystery shopping is where a company or firm hires a mystery shopping company to assess their service. The service of the company can be measured regularly by the company in the way of mystery shoppers. The company will offer the work out to a bank of mystery shoppers online and it is usually a first come first served basis. The mystery shopping worker will then file a report online to the mystery shopping company they are working for who, in turn, will then report the results back to the company who are assessing their service. Why I Started It I began mystery shopping over 20 years ago when I worked in a bank and I found out we had mystery shoppers who came in every few months. I asked a colleague what mystery shopping entailed and she explained the background of it. She also said that she did mystery shopping herself in her spare time so I asked her how I could get into it. She gave me a phone number, I phoned up and got onto the company's register. It didn't take long for my first job to come through - it was with Woolworths, the follow up job was there too. Both jobs consisted of me going into the store to buy small items, which were stated by the mystery shopping company, and then going home and filling out a report. At that time the report was on paper and it was about 7 or 8 pages long. I had to write down anything I had to been told to look for, such as promotions in the shop, posters, whether the shop was looking tidy or untidy, ...

Aviemore Area (Scotland) 11/05/2017

Aviemore

Aviemore Area (Scotland) AVIEMORE Aviemore is a hidden gem situated in the north of Scotland. I say hidden, because it is so far north that many people don't realise it is here, and also because of the size of it - it is a small town so the implications are that there won't be much to do. In actual fact, there are lots of things to do in Aviemore, and the surrounding areas, for the whole family. The area of land around Aviemore is so vast that there are lots of outdoor activities. About Aviemore Aviemore is about half an hour's drive south from Inverness. You can also reach it by bus (there are regular buses that go to Aviemore as well as buses that go down south - Glasgow, Edinburgh - that pass through it) or by train. Buses stop right in the centre of Aviemore, on the High Street and there is a train station that you can reach from the main street so both are easily accessible. The population in Aviemore is less than 3,000 (approximately 2,830) so it is not a huge town but it always seems to be very busy with visitors. What to do in Aviemore "Outdoor Sports" Ski-ing Many people come to Aviemore for the outdoor sports, which play a big part in Aviemore. There is an out door ski centre where people come to ski - http://www.cairngormmountain.org/ - this is set up the Cairngorm Mountains and is frequently busy. Snowboarding is also available here. This is a popular place and many people come to learn to ski here, or bring their kids to learn to ski here (there are instructors on site) and ...

Bannatynes Health Club, Inverness 23/04/2017

Bannatynes Inverness

Bannatynes Health Club, Inverness BANNATYNES Membership I first took out my Bannatynes Membership in 2010 when I went in with my mum so she could book an appointment at the spa. There are various membership options and at the time I took out my membership, I took out the Monday to Friday option and only took it out for myself (I had a Highlife Highland membership at that time so kept that open so that if I wanted to go swimming at the weekend or to take my son swimming I would just take him to the local authority pool). The Bannatynes membership for Monday to Friday was approximately £32. After having the membership for a few months, I decided it was easier to have one membership somewhere and that it would be about the same to upgrade my Bannatynes one and cancel the local authority one. I got my son added on to the Bannatynes membership and upgraded to a full week membership (weekends too) and it would have been £39 for me to upgrade to weekends and then I added my son on and it was a further £12 to add him on (£52 altogether). The membership has gone up slightly over the years and is now £54 for the two of us per month. It is a lot of money, I think this cost only bothers me really when I think of the restrictions that my son has to get in and I will explain this in a minute. Where the Facility is Located I am quite lucky in that I can drive but if my car was ever in the garage or the weather was bad and I did not want to drive, I could easily take the bus down as it is located on the bus route between ...

The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty 22/04/2017

The Husband's Secret

The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty I had never read any of Liane Moriarty's books until a friend at work gave me a copy of her book 'The Husband's Secret'. She told me that when she started reading it she read most of it in one sitting as she could not put it down. I began to read it and the first couple of pages are always the main decider for me on whether I am going to continue with the book or not. I wasn't too sure about this one to begin with - it began quite routinely with a mum chatting with her daughters and it seemed a bit mundane. Then one of her daughters asked her about the Berlin Wall coming down and the mum said that she was at the demolition of it with her friend. I don't know why this got my attention but it did and I am so glad it held my interest. Once I got past the first few pages, I found it hard to put down too. This book is set in Australia. The main characters in the book are Cecilia (the mum who is chatting with her girls at the start of the book), Tess and Rachel. Each chapter revolves around one of the characters. Cecilia is married to John-Paul and they have three daughters. Tess is married to Will and they have a young son. Rachel is widowed and has a grown up son, Rob, a daughter-in-law Lauren and a grandson, Jacob. The three females are unaware but they are connected by a secret. The secret involves something that happened to someone years ago and some of the characters in the book are still living with the aftereffects. As well as the secret, there is also other things ...

Going It Alone - Clare Dowling 05/04/2017

Going it Alone

Going It Alone - Clare Dowling I picked up a copy of this book at my local library. The cover of the book is turqoise with flowers around the side of it and a clock in the middle. I thought it looked suitably like a chick lit book (my favourite type of read) so thought I would take it out. I have also read books by Clare Dowling before and she writes really well. The main character of the story is Millie, who is married to Andrew and desperate to become a mum. Unfortunately, Andrew has just started a new job and is reassessing his life - he now no longer wants children. Millie has to decide whether her need for a child is greater than her love for her husband - at 39 she decides it is (she may never get a chance to become a mum if she leaves it too long), and so the next step is to go it alone in her quest for motherhood. She begins to look for clinics who may help her. She finds a clinic in Spain and heads out there (although other people have plans when they hear that she is going to Ireland - her solo trip ends up being hijacked by family members who are unaware of why she is going away). While she is away, her mind gets distracted by something - she thought her only focus would be the clinic and the possibility of becoming a mother but something happens while she is away that she did not see coming. I am not going to reveal the outcome of the story - you will have to read it yourself to find out if Millie succeeds in getting what she wants or not. I do like the way that the author has written ...

Blair Drummond Safari And Adventure Park, Stirling 10/03/2017

Blair Drummond Safari Park

Blair Drummond Safari And Adventure Park, Stirling Blair Drummond Safari Park Where it is / How to Get There I had fancied visiting Blair Drummond Safari Park for a number of years - each year I took my son on holiday we would pass the sign for it while going down the road and I would remember about it again! We finally got around to going in the summer of 2013. It is situated in Stirling, about half an hour's drive from Glasgow. We live in the north of Scotland (Inverness) but it wasn't a long journey for us but I think it is well located wherever you are as it is less than an hour from Glasgow or Edinburgh so if you are handy if you live in the area but if you don't live in the area, there are plenty of things to do if you wanted to come for a holiday and you have a choice then of staying in Glasgow, Edinburgh or Stirling (or even Perth, which is not that far either from Stirling). If you are driving to the location, you just need to head for the M9 and take Junction 10 off it. Public transport works well too as you can either get a bus or train to Stirling and there are buses going out from the train station/bus station to the Safari Park. The Safari Park is a few miles out from the centre of Stirling. Where I Stayed I booked into a bed and breakfast close to the Safari Park - I thought it would be easier. The bed band breakfast was a lovely bed and breakfast (I would recommend it) but because we hadn't driven down, it was quite far out and left us quite stuck for doing other things. If I take the car down again ...

Jacobite Steam Railway, United Kingdom 02/03/2017

Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig

Jacobite Steam Railway, United Kingdom Fort William to Mallaig Stream Train My son is a huge Harry Potter fan so a few years ago when we found out that the steam train going from Fort William to Mallaig had been involved in the filming of some of the Harry Potter films, we decided to book a trip on the train. Tickets We live in Inverness so are about an hour and a half from Fort William so it was feasible for us to do it in one day. We booked our tickets . At the time my son was under 12 so he was classed as a child so got our tickets booked for approximately £50. There are standard tickets and there are first class tickets - we took the standard day return ones (we sat in one of the big open coaches). I have just checked the prices of the tickets and they have gone up slightly (although not by much) - an adult day return ticket is now £35 compared to the £33 I paid a few years ago and a child day return ticket is £20. You can also buy single tickets which are useful if you want to stay overnight in Mallaig or if you are going on a coach tour and just need a one way trip to Fort William - the single tickets cost £30 for an adult and £18 for a child. The first class tickets cost £59 for an adult day return and £32 for a child day return, or £54 for an adult single ticket and £27 for a child single ticket. How to Get There The steam train runs from Fort William to Mallaig. Fort William is approximately an hour and a half drive from Inverness, via the A82 Loch Ness Road. I am not keen on driving along ...

I Heart Christmas - Lindsey Kelk 13/02/2017

I heart Christmas

I Heart Christmas - Lindsey Kelk This was the first book I have read by Lindsey Kelk and I was not disappointed. She has written a series of 'I heart' books, this 'I heart Christmas' being one of them. The main character of this book is Angela, an English girl who now lives in New York with her American husband Alex. Angela has always loved Christmas but in America, where everything is bigger and better - Christmas ice skating, department store full of Christmas shopping, etc - Angela cannot wait to get into the festive spirit. She has a week off work so she can immerse herself in all Christmas things. What could possibly go wrong?!! It seems that other people have other ideas about her taking a week off work to have a stress free Christmas week. Angela works in a magazine and she finds herself suddenly in charge of the magazine - something she has never done before! Bang goes her week off! Other things begin to happen to her that week, things that make you feel very sorry for her and you feel very stressed on her behalf but at the same time some of the scenarios are really funny and you cannot help laughing out loud (well I couldn't anyway). Alex announces that they are moving house, Angela's best friend from back home arrives on her doorstep with her two year old, her best American friend announces she wants a baby, either with or without a partner, as well as stressful work things happening. Her parents also decide they want to pay a visit! I had a slow start on this book - maybe because it was ...

Too Close for Comfort - Clare Dowling 27/10/2016

Too Close for Comfort

Too Close for Comfort - Clare Dowling I have read one of Clare Dowling's books before and this one, like the other one I read, was fantastic. Dowling is an excellent author and I don't know why I haven't read more of her books, she writes extremely well with an emphasis put on families and relationships. The main theme running through this book is the relationship between two sisters Ali and Emma. When Ali was young she went to America for a holiday and ended up not coming home - much to her family's dismay. The book begins with letters that were written between Ali and Emma around that time so this builds the foundations for their relationship. Now, about 16 years on, Ali has come home. She has married and had three children but things are not working out in her marriage so she has fled America with her three children and come back to Ireland. Although she is the oldest in the family, she doesn't seem to be good at facing up to things, even although she comes across as quite bolshy and in-your-face. She doesn't want to stay with her ageing parents, but chooses to stay with Emma, who is going through her own heartbreak. Emma puts Ali up thinking that it would just be for a few nights and that whatever it was Ali was running away from would blow over. It is about half way through the book before we find out what is wrong with Emma - I am not going to reveal this storyline, but the author has written about it really well. It is not something that is normally written about in fiction and it is perhaps one of ...

As Good As It Gets? - Fiona Gibson 26/08/2016

As Good as it Gets

As Good As It Gets? - Fiona Gibson I have read books by Fiona Gibson before so, when I saw this one in my local library, I thought I would try it. It was a really good read and was just as observational and witty as Gibson's other books. This book is based around Charlotte, a wife and mother who works at a posh crisp factory. The book has a prologue where we learn that Charlotte's oldest child, Rosie, is not her husband's child. When Charlotte discovered that she was expecting Rosie, Rosie's dad disappeared off the scene and his mother was left to deal with the situation. Charlotte then met Will, they married and Will helped Charlotte to bring up Rosie. They went on to have another child, Ollie. I think this story is important as nowadays there are lots of step families and children who don't live with their real dads. I am not living with my son's father so I felt I could really relate to Charlotte's situation. The book begins with Charlotte and Rosie out shopping for Will's birthday present. While they are in a shop, Rosie gets scouted for a modelling company and begins a modelling adventure. While making up photos for her portfolio, in interview and pictures are done with her and her mum. It triggers Rosie's dad popping back up into their lives as he reads the interview. I don't want to give away what happens so you will just have to read it for yourself, but the feelings that Will has - looking at his self-worth, feeling that Rosie will forget about him if her real dad is on the scene and insecurity - ...

Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop - Abby Clements 23/07/2016

Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop

Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop - Abby Clements This is the first book that I have read of Abby Clements and I really enjoyed it. It is circled around two sisters, Anna and Immogen, and the relationship they have with their grandmother. The book opens up with a scene involving their grandmother. Unfortunately, they lose their grandmother and get left her ice cream shop. To begin with they don't know what to do as Anna is settled in her job and Immogen is living the dream abroad, travelling and taking photographs. She comes home for her grandmother's funeral and they decide to make a go of the shop. There are hiccups along the way though, so whether they are successful or not is something that you will have to read for yourself - I don't want to give the story away. The story revolves around the shop and the sisters' relationship with each other and with boyfriends. The girls are both different but have a close relationship. They have a close relationship with their parents too, which helps their dad who has taken his mother's death really badly. The only thing that I thought was a bit strange was Immogen, when she came home from abroad made out that she and her mother had a bad relationship and didn't get along so well, but the only evidence of a bad relationship was her mother worrying about her being abroad - which I don't think is a unusual thing for a mother - there was nothing else to base it on. There was a change of scene throughout the book too - the shop was based in Brighton but Anna went to Italy at one ...

Lovestruck - Julia Llewellyn 07/07/2016

Lovestruck

Lovestruck - Julia Llewellyn I had never read any of Julia Llewellyn books before but this one caught my eye in my local library so thought I would give it a read. The story, I thought, got off to a bit of a slow start. It is based on Rosie and Jake, a married couple with two children. The beginning of the story sees them get together so that you can see how happy they were when they first met. Then it jumps on to the present day. Rosie and Jake hadn't been together all that long when their children arrived. Jake was a struggling actor when they first met and Rosie was the main breadwinner. Nowadays, though, Jake has made the big time with a regular part in a television drama. They have just moved into a big house at the start of the book but rather than feel envious you can almost feel it is too pretentious. The author then pours out Rosie's innermost feelings and Rosie thinks that the house is too much, everything is too much - you feel that she wants her old life back. The author has a great way in this book of making you realise that money and material possessions are not everything and that sometimes, people are more important. Rosie has been feeling that since the fame and money came about, that Jake has not been the same to her - that their relationship has been put on the back burner. Rosie's best friend, Christy, is Jake's agent and Rosie also feels that Christy is putting Jake before their friendship as she constantly tries to get work for Jake. I loved how this book goes back and fore ...
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