what I’ve read in 2017 so far

I know we’re now far past the mid-point of the year, but when Emma-Louise from Read, Write, Inspire tagged me in the Mid Year Freak Out tag I had to join in.  It’s a book tag, about what I’ve read in 2017 so far.  The only thing I love more than reading books is talking about them, so lets get cracking!

My prized possession is my book collection which dominates a corner of our living room. I keep most of the books I’ve read, unless I really hated them.  I also have well over one hundred books still waiting patiently on the shelves to be read, and that’s after a bit of a clear out earlier in the year where I got rid of unread books that no longer suit my tastes.  I have a serious obsession, and have had to ban myself from buying any new books as I have nowhere else to put them (or time to read them!).

But reading is my safe haven, my sanity saver and the way I switch off at night.  Through books I learn more about others, the world and myself.  You’re never alone when you have a book.  I don’t see me getting over my obsession any time soon.

I decided to use the Pop Sugar reading challenge to help me chose which books to read in 2017.  Forty books which fit into categories such as “set in war time” or “has a red spine.”  With a newborn thrown in to the mix since June, I know I’ll not get close to the target.  But I’ve made a good try, and am currently sitting at 23/40.  Hopefully I’ll get to at least 30 before the year is out, so look out for a post about the challenge then.

Without further ado though, here’s a bit of a summary of what I’ve read in 2017 so far.

read in 2017

 

Best books you’ve read in 2017 so far

read in 2017 - the handmaid's tale

I’ve been lucky, I’ve had quite a lot of good reads.  I don’t usually re-read books, but because the challenge asked for a book from childhood I re-read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aitken.  I also re-read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale after watching the tv adaptaion.  Both were just as good as I remembered.  But the best new (to me) books have been Life of Pi by Yann Mantel, Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love and Chocolat by Joanne Harris.

read in 2017 - go set a watchman

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017

I don’t usually read series of books, but this year I read the second book in the Miss Pereguin’s series.  It was ok, though I preferred the first book.  If it counts, I’d actually say Go Set a Watchman was a good sequal to To Kill a Mockingbird, although I think Harper Lee actually wrote it first.  It was cool to revisit Scout as a grown up, and to see Atticus in a different light.

New release you haven’t read yet but want to

I try not to look at other books, as I have so many of my own still to read!  But I did like the sound of See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt.

Most anticipated release in the 2nd half of the year.

I don’t tend to keep an eye on what’s coming out, for the reason I mentioned above.  I don’t even check if my favourite authors have got anything in the pipeline, the temptation would be too strong.

Biggest disappointment

Speaking of favourite authors…maybe not knowing what they’re up to isn’t awlays a bad thing.  I read Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last and was really underwhelmed.  I was a bit gutted, as she is one of my favourites and this story sounded like it was going to be so intriguing.  But there just seemed to be something missing in this book, it lacked soul. I really didn’t like how current it was either.  I know that sounds funny but I don’t mean current as in finger-on-the-pulse.  More like current in a way that was going to date it very quickly.

read in 2017 - the history of love

Biggest surprise

Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love.  This was given to me by a friend who was having a clear out, and he’s pretty hip so I couldn’t understand why he had such a chick-lit sounding book in his stash.  I only read it because it ticked one of the reading challenge categories.  But I’m so glad I did, I was under its spell from the first page.  It was not chick-lit at all, but raw and human and heartbreaking.

Fav new author

In line with my favourite books of the year it would be Nicole Krauss, Yann Mantel and Joanne Harris.  They were all new to me, and when I lift the ban on buying new books I’ll be looking to see if they have any others I can add to my collection.

Fav new crush

No character in the books I’ve read this year has made me think “I want to be loved the way he loves her.”  I was curious about Reuben in Clare Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days but the ending made me reassess that.

read in 2017 - the book thief

Fav new characters

Who doesn’t root for Pi, cast adrift in a lifeboat with a tiger?  Or Christopher as he tries to solve Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time? Probably the one I’ll remember the most is Liesal Meminger from Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, because even though I hated the ending of that story I rooted for her the whole way through.

Book that made you cry

The History of Love actually had me in tears by page 10.  And Toni Morrison’s Beloved had me crying at various points for various characters.  That book is full of pain.

Book that made you happy

Chocolat, and not just because of all the delicious images it put in my mind.  It showed that “good” can come in a whole range of guises, and I quite liked its feminist leanings too!

read in 2017 - our endless numbered days

Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year

I’ve not bought any books this year…at least not for myself!  But at the end of last year I changed jobs and my leaving gift was a very generous Waterstone’s voucher.  I bought about eight new books (a treat for me as I usually go second hand).  So if by beautiful we mean cover design, then Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller wins that.

What books do you need to read before the end of the year.

Like I said, it’s unlikely I’ll manage the 17 I need to hit the target of 40 books read in 2017.  But I’m at least hoping to get the following under my belt – Hotel World by Ali Smith, Irène Némirovsky’s Suite Francaise and The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor.  I might also give Mark Twain’s  The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula a go too.

 

So that’s my thoughts on some of what I’ve read in 2017 so far.  I’m excited about the books that are waiting for me!  Have you read any good books this year?  Feel free to tag yourself in this, and let me know if you post about it.  I love to see what other people are reading.  Let me know if you’ve read any of the books I’ve mentioned here, I’d like to know what you thought of them.

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Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens – an honest review

Today our four year old turns five. What with him starting school a few weeks ago I’m fresh out of emotions at milestones, so I’m coping just fine! Five suits him, and I remember from the teen that five is a good year. Less tantrums, more personality. Though this kid has personality by the bucketful already, I’m not sure I could handle any more! We didn’t throw him a party this year, as he doesn’t know all the kids in his class yet, so instead we took him to Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens.

Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens

It’s a dreary Monday and I’m the bad (good?) sort of mum who makes her kids go to school on their birthdays. He opened all his gifts before school – a street sweeper, mini bus, log lorry, crane and sea plane in a variety of Lego, Playmobile and Sika…he’s a total vehicle geek. Another thing he geeks out over is dinosaurs. He geeks out over those hard.  We’ve seen every dinosaur movie possible, our house is over run with books and toys, and the little dude can tell you facts about the most obscure dinos (as well as pronounce their names).

So when I first heard about the Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens I knew we had to take him. Animatronic dinosaurs would blow his little mind.  I had the tab open on my browser for months until the tickets went on sale, and yesterday it was finally our time to experience the magic.

Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens

 

getting there, getting in

I’ll get the bad bits over with first.  The tickets for Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens weren’t cheap – for a family of four it was over £10 per perso. The customer service is poor to non-existent too.  I raised a request via Eventbrite and got no response, and on Facebook had to chase for a reply which was curt to say the least.

I also didn’t like the booking process.  If you’re thinking of going when the tour moves on to other areas of the country, don’t book as soon as the tickets go on sale.  I did that, only to find that a discount code was released the next day.  Not a nice way to treat your most keen customers.  The tickets are also non-refundable, which isn’t great when you’re buying in advance for children. Better hope they don’t come down with chicken pox or something on the day!*

Obviously if you catch the tour somewhere else this one may not be an issue, but specific to Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens there is no dedicated parking.  We didn’t see that as a problem but I thought it was worth a mention here.  We got parked on Byres Road, which was free and unrestricted as it was a Sunday. There are also a couple of car parks nearby.  But I would guess the car parks would fill up quickly, and they aren’t free.  On-street parking is restricted and most of it is residents only, so I’d recommend public transport if at all possible. Our friends got public transport, which is great to that part of the city.

Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens

 

the dinosaur experience

The dinosaurs are laid out at points along a route through the Botanic Gardens.  The route was well sign-posted and was fine for pushing a pram along, though due to where it is there were hills and part of the route does take you out on to a road.

We were greeted by a colossal Brachiosaurus as we made our way up to the start of the route. The wee guy was a bit nervous at first!  The dinosaurs make noises, and he wasn’t too sure about that.  He soon warmed up though, when he saw some Pterodactyls in the trees. After that he excitedly ran from dino to dino, getting up close and really enjoying himself.

Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens

The models themselves were really good, and there were facts about each one.  A lot of them moved and made sound so it was a lot of fun being roared at!  It was really busy when we were there, but the models are spaced out well enough that there’s plenty of room to see them and pose for photos.

We were lucky enough to get a typical Scottish summer day for our visit. The heavens ripped open and torrential rain pelted us before we even got halfway round the route.  We’d worn our trusty waterproofs, which was lucky as there is very little shelter.  Feeding the baby under a bridge while rain thundered down and a T-Rex growled menacingly at us is a memory I wont forget.  It was like being in our own version of Jurassic Park. We just needed an upturned car to complete the scene.  Make sure you check the weather and dress appropriately so your trip isn’t spoiled by soggy socks!

Highlights of Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens for us were the Raptors snacking on another dinosaur, the Euoplocephalus and of course the enormous Tyrannosaurus Rex!  It was also nice to see the Botanic Gardens, which I haven’t been so since I was a kid.  We’ll definitely be visiting there again once the dinosaurs have moved on.

Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens

 

facilities and extras

There were portaloos and catering facilities at the mid-point, although we didn’t need to use them.  There was also a merch trailer selling all things dinosaur.  Our little guy chose a plastic model Pachycephalosaurus (he can pronounce it, I can’t) which was £9.  I actually didn’t think the toys on sale were too badly priced.

There were ride-on dinosaurs and a VR experience, both which cost extra.  The wee guy wasn’t interested, so I don’t know if they were worth the money.

There are also an egg and a dinosaur’s jaws near the entrance, to use as photo props.  They are free, but the queue for these was pretty long so we didn’t use them.  As you can tell from his pained expression in the photos, the birthday boy wasn’t in the mood to pose!

Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens

 

overall – is jurassic kingdom at glasgow botanic gardens worth it?

Given the bad experience with booking, I was really worried that Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens was going to disappoint.  I’d read some less than positive reviews from other stops on the tour, especially about the condition of the models.  Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised.  The models were all working and all looked great.

In terms of value for money…are these things ever value for money?  But I didn’t feel ripped off as we walked around.  Sadly the weather was pretty awful for us yesterday. But we were waterproofed up enough to still enjoy it and see everything there was to see.  We could have easily made a day of it, with a picnic and going round the route more than once, had the weather been at least dry.  We’d love to do it again for that reason, though not at the current price.

Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens

The tour still has some places in the UK to visit. I’d recommend it if you have a little dinosaur nerd like ours,  particularly if they’re under the age of ten. Though I did see childless adults enjoying it just as much as our crowd!

 

 

*They say they’re non-exchangeable too, but Eventbrite do let you change the names on the tickets.  So if you are unable to go you could always sell your tickets to someone else.

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taking a bit of a blogging break…

It is with a big grin on my face that I share our special news…

Baby #3 arrived on 23 June!

 

Our beautiful boy made his appearance in the most perfect way possible – a water birth at home, just as we had hoped.  He’s a chilled out little soul, although he does seem to have day and night the wrong way round.  His brothers are besotted with him, and it goes without saying that so are me and Hubs!

I’m drinking in every newborn moment just now, and although I’d love to be the sort of blogger who had scheduled a month of posts to cover these first few weeks I’m afraid I’m too new at the blog game (and had no motivation in the last weeks of pregnancy) to have been that well prepared.  So for now, I’ll just claim to be on a break.  Possibly I’ll fit in a few posts here and there.  Maybe.  Hopefully.   I will at least join in some linkies as a chance to get my older posts some attention and to read new posts, so you’ll maybe notice me about.

But blogging is just my hobby…my babies are my life.  I’m now a mum to three sons, so I need to take this chance to transition and find my feet!

 

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little loves [ haim, 13 reasons why + the handmaid’s tale ]

It’s been way too long since I last did a Little Loves post, Fridays come around so soon and I seem to keep missing the boat.  Time is flying by now I’m on maternity leave, I hope it slows down once baby boy arrives as I want the chance to enjoy every second of his babyhood.  And I’m hoping that by next Friday, if I miss linking up my excuse will be because I’m too busy cuddling my newborn!

I’m all-consumed by waiting for his birth, so this is actually a nice chance to reflect on things away from that and talk about something other than pregnancy.

 

Read

Not much to report book-wise, as I spent weeks struggling through Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being.  It just left me cold…hardly a little love!

I spent some time yesterday reading this week’s Stylist though.  I don’t really read any magazines, but I love this free one – it was the highlight of my commuting week and I’m so glad that Hubs remembers to grab me a copy now I’m on maternity leave.  I’m also loving their website, especially this article about an argument that happened on Love Island (which I am proud to say I’ve never seen!) about feminism and paying on dates.

 

Watched

We finally caught up with the world and watched 13 Reasons Why.  We ploughed through it, couldn’t stop watching it – I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was.  The cast, the soundtrack and of course the difficult but very real and relevant issues it tackled were all incredibly well selected and woven into a compelling story with a genius hook.  And as for glamourising suicide, which is a critisism I’ve seen levelled at the show, I don’t agree at all.  If anything I think it did the opposite, because as a viewer you can see all the good that Hannah misses out on by cutting her life short and of the support networks she could have accessed.  Like anyone who saw it, *the* scene in the final episode tore me apart.  A lot of that came down to the fact that I am a mother and saw it from that perspective (to the point of hyperventilation and uncontrollable crying), but I doubt it left any viewer with the opinion that suicide is an easy option, or one without repercussions for those who love you most.  And in general, when you see how self absorbed those who hurt Hannah still were even after hearing how they made her feel, I don’t agree that the series tries to paint suicide as a good way of getting revenge on people either.  It was a great series which tackled an issue which needs more awareness…you can’t get much better than that.

 
We’re now watching The Handmaid’s Tale, which I was so glad Channel 4 picked up.  After reading about it for so long during it’s production I am made up that it’s living up to my expectations.  The book is one of my favourites, and I think it’s an important story to be raising the profile of right now as a lot of the issues in it (reproductive rights, right-wing politics, religious power struggles, feminism and human rights) are so relevant.  If you’ve missed the first few episodes, you should definitely watch it on catch-up and get up to speed for some great Sunday night drama.

 

Heard

I’m quite excited that Haim are due to release a new album this summer, and so when my friend shared this video with me a few weeks back I nearly peed my pants…

I’ve also managed to wrestle the kitchen radio off the teen and discovered Radio X, which replaced my old indie/rock love XFM.  Don’t be put off by the fact Chris Moyles and Johnny Vaughn are on the pay roll – just listen to the choons!  Though I have just Googled and am sad to see they don’t have a single female DJ, which has turned me off a bit…

 

Wore

I’m down to one pair of maternity jeans right now, so I have nothing exciting to put here.  But I did recently get the chance to wear again the maternity evening dress I bought for a wedding.  Our friends’ daughter was christened recently, so I got to dress up for that.  It made me feel a bit more human again, to do my hair and look nice for a while.  No heels, mind you!

 

Made

I actually have something to put here!  I made scones at the weekend, and despite being on the small side (though I’m certain that was the recipe as they rose really well) they were actually pretty good.  And before that I made flapjacks, which were lush.  I’d convinced myself years ago that I couldn’t bake, but I think the problem was that in my healthy quest I was trying to do diet or “clean” baking…which is just crap.  Turns out I can bake pretty well as long as I use real flour, real butter and real (sorry) sugar.  I’m definitely going to embrace real cake from now on.  The healthy part will just be having it in moderation.  I can see baking being a regular thing during my maternity leave!

 

…& finally

My four year old “graduates” from nursery tomorrow.  He’ll still be attending over the summer, but tomorrow is a celebration of them moving on to primary school and this part of their little lives coming to an end.  Provided I don’t go into labour overnight and miss the whole thing, I predict I will be a big blubbering mess!

 

 

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our rainy day on the farm

 

We are lucky in that we live in a very beautiful part of Scotland.  We’re close enough to cities like Glasgow and Stirling to enjoy all that they offer but far enough into the country that we’re surrounded by natural beauty and opportunities to get out and about.

So that’s just what me and the boys did recently, to kick off my maternity leave.  Despite the rain, we headed to a local farm, who were having a fairy woodland weekend.  There were games (racing rubber ducks using water pumps was a clear winner, and even the teenager joined in for that), crafts and a hunt through the woods to find fairy doors.

We also went on a tractor ride around the farm to meet the animals.  I don’t think I need to say what a stupid idea it was for a heavily pregnant woman to ride through fields on a trailer…this would be obvious to anyone.  Except me, it would appear.  It was only as we set off and the first few jolts knocked me that I started to worry about my waters breaking.  But we made it through intact and the four year old was made up to have gone on it, so at least I scored some mum points.

Living in the west of Scotland – possibly one of the wettest places on earth – we’ve come to embrace that saying about there being no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.  And actually, I’m usually glad when conditions are a little less than perfect on a day out because there are less crowds to bother with.  Clouds over crowds…I should get a t-shirt made up with that on it.

The other great thing about a bit of rain is that I think there’s something beautiful about nature when it’s wet – the colours and smells just seem to be a bit more alive.  Plus, there’s nothing quite like being slapped in the face by a wet branch as you race after an intrepid explorer on the hunt for fairies.

From my point of view it was quite an emotional day too.  As we tucked into some lush home baking in the farm shop, I said to the boys do you know, this is the last time we’ll have a day out just the three of us.  Struck by the fact that next time there’ll be another little person in our gang soon, that this was the end of an era for us, I thought that was kind of a big deal.  The mum, please looks I got back from the teen and the four year old told me I was alone in the moment though, and they got stuck straight back into their obscenely large strawberry tarts.  Maybe it was for the best, it would have been a bit cringe if I’d burst into hormonal tears and hugged them to me in the middle of the café.

We had a lovely day out, and I’m hoping that once the baby arrives and the school holidays start our summer will be full of more adventures to share on here.

My Random Musings
Pink Pear Bear
Cuddle Fairy
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little loves [ chocolat, person of interest + a baby shower ]

 

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve reflected on the things that have brought me joy, and I’m a bit late joining the party today but I wanted to take the chance. My blogging has been a little erratic whilst I finish up work and deal with late pregnancy tiredness, so I’m trying to make a point of writing when I have the time. God knows how erratic it will be once baby boy gets here!

I have three days left of work and then I’m on maternity leave. The midwife came out to our house yesterday to assess the place for our home birth. We’ve unpacked and washed all the clothes, nappies, bedding, steriliser and travel system. Things are getting real, but I’m actually feeling all the calmer for it.

It’s nice to take this chance to reflect on things other than baby and pregnancy though – as you can tell from my last few posts I seem to have a one track mind right now but there actually are other things going on too!

Read…

…Chocolat by Joanne Harris.  Oh, I loved this!  It’s been sitting on my shelf for years, since I saw the film.  I kept putting it off as I’m sure someone somewhere had said it was a difficult read.  I don’t know what they meant by that, as I didn’t find the writing or the subject difficult at all!  It was delicious – funny, captivating, thought provoking and was the literary equivalent of unwrapping and biting into one of the luxury chocolates straight off the pages.  The characters are all so rich, from the self-important and vile priest right down to the imaginary friend rabbit of little Anouk, and I loved the themes of friendship, inclusiveness and questioning of what really is good and evil.

I’ve also read a few blog posts about the BiB awards…which as a newbie blogger seems a million miles removed from what I’m doing.  But it looks exciting, so you never know maybe this time next year I’ll have enough experience to throw my hat in the ring.  If the reaction to my post about what I’ve learned about blogging so far is anything to go by, I’m learning things all the time.  I wish the best of luck to anyone who’s canvasing for votes just now (and to anyone trying to narrow down their favourite bloggers)!

 

Watched…

The last ever Person of Interest *sob*  Hubs and I have watched this since the beginning, and for me it’s never had a slow season.  I love the episode stories, where the team save people identified by a Big Brother-style surveillance machine, and also the overreaching storyline of the team who fight to protect the machine and carry out it’s missions.  There’s some really great female characters in it, which you don’t often see…I was obsessed with Root!  I’ll really miss the show.

I’ve also found myself sucked into One Born Every Minute for the first time in years.  Hubs knows to stay away when I’m watching, as I spend half the time shouting at the telly and the other half blubbing!

 

Heard…

Honestly, I think I’ve found a new addiction – adding music to my birth playlist!  79 songs and counting, which is silly because at the speed I pop my babies out I’ll never get to listen to all the tracks.  But I’m determined that this will be the labour which I finally get to listen to my music. My first was in a hospital and the CD player was broken, my second was so rushed that music didn’t feature, so this time I’m hitting play at the first hint of a twinge.

I’ve also been listening to my hypnobirthing sessions…when I remember.  I need to get more regular with that!

 

 

Wore

I notice I’ve verged back into pregnant/baby territory again…clearly my mind can’t be distracted for long!  But this week I wore a mum-to-be sash, as my wonderful girl tribe threw me a surprise baby shower!  And it really was a surprise – we arrived home from taking the four year old to a party and standing at the front door were my mum, MIL, step-daughter and eight of my friends…and I burst into tears!  Apparently it’s been planned since February, and even Hubs was in on it.  We had a great time eating cake and playing daft games (including a guess-what’s-in-the-nappy one which was pretty gross!), and it was just incredible to have most of my favourite women in the same room.  Some hadn’t met one another, so it was so special to introduce them.  It made me feel so blessed (sorry, can’t bring myself to hashtag).  It’s taken until my 30’s to find my little tribe, but it was worth the wait – I’m so lucky to have them all.

 

Made…

I struggle with this section every time!  I’ve not even cooked anything new this week, so I can’t claim that.  I have decided that one of my maternity leave projects will be to learn to bake, so hopefully I’ll have something to share here if the results aren’t too shameful.  I don’t know what it is about baking, but it’s something I’ve never mastered.  It’s like witchcraft!  But I’m determined to at least make a passable batch of brownies to win the approval of my boys.

 

…& Finally

I’m tempted to force Hubs to paint my toenails, as I can no longer reach my feet.  But after hearing my friend’s story about when her hubby painted hers in pregnancy (apparently it looked like he’d basically just dipped each toe straight into the pot of polish) I’m a bit scared.  Wish me luck (and pretty tootsies!).

 

 

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what I’ve learned from my first two months of blogging

 

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog recently.  I’ve been trying to devote my spare time to practicing my hypnobirthing breathing and basically just trying to chill out. I’ll blog about that in full when I get round to part two of my birth plans (you can read part one, about why I want a homebirth, here), but I had to get back on here to soothe the nagging guilt about abandoning my blog.

I’ve mentioned previously that I gave blogging a go before, a few years back.  I gave up on it because I found myself struggling with feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy under the shade of the big hitters, the slick pro-bloggers, the celebs of the blogosphere.  It felt a bit pointless to continue something I’d only started as a way to keep my mind active during maternity leave, but which had grown arms and legs and schedules and social media pressure, and which was eating away at my confidence.  This time I’m trying to keep the fun in it and to maintain some perspective, and so thought I’d take this lull to reflect on what I’ve learned since I started this little scrap of the WWW back in March.

 

1.  I am a hobby blogger…and that’s ok

I came to blogging after having an online journal for over ten years.  My experience was sharing rants, anecdotes and the occasional low-res drunken photo with a small group of similarly angsty teenagers.  So I was a bit scared off when I saw that blogging had a professional sheen and competitive, stats-driven side that was all new to me.

I understand now that for many bloggers this isn’t just a creative outlet – it’s how they make their living.  But at the time I panicked, and felt much the same way as I had when as a kid I was accidentally put in a swim class beyond my ability (a mix up, I happened to share a name with a more advanced swimmer)  – out of my depth, scared stiff and nearly drowning.

Now I can appreciate that I was a bit like a middle aged cyclist on a council cycle path trying to compare myself to a young Olympian in a fancy velodrome – similar sport, but vastly different levels of talent, time and equipment!  And you know what?  I’d look shit in one of those lycra suits anyway, so I’m quite happy to trundle along, avoiding the potholes with the other amateurs.

 

2.  There is more than one type of blogger

Hand in hand with the above is that this time around I’m more aware that there are many different types of bloggers. I’ve been heartened finding those who do what they do just…because.  Don’t get me wrong, I love reading blogs by those who collaborate with big organisations and who are practically brands in their own right.  But I’m balancing the pro-bloggers with the hobbyists this time around.

 

3.  Even novice bloggers need a plan

Or maybe that’s just heavily pregnant scatterbrains like me!  But its so easy for me to let days pass me by – I get in tired from work, collapse on the sofa after dinner and ooops…blogging time is over before I’ve even touched the keyboard.  But I’m a stickler for a to-do list, and a plan will help me get new content up on a regular basis.  I need to make blogging routine – nothing too regimented or busy, given that I will soon have a newborn to contend with, but enough to kick me up the arse when I’m tempted by another evening vegetating in front of a box set.

 

4.  Write first, read later

This has two meanings.  My first is when putting together a post – I need to stop editing as I write!  It can take me forever to write a post if I’m constantly tweaking and re-reading (I know, right?  This crap I put up is actually the polished version…you don’t want to see the mess it starts as).  I need to train myself to get the words down first, and worry about prettying them up afterwards.

The second meaning is to get my own blog posts written before I lose myself in reading other blogs.  I’m such a fan of other bloggers that I can be distracted from my own writing by a single intriguing  tweet, fall down the rabbit hole and emerge bleary eyed with my bed calling, having read ten other blog posts but with only my own blank post editor to show for it.

 

5.  But always read…and comment

I’m not the most savvy networker, and building relationships with other bloggers is something I’ve just not mastered.  But reading and commenting on other blogs has helped me feel more like part of the community, and I like to think/hope that some of those bloggers will head over here too.  I know how good I feel if someone comments on my blog, so I like to make sure I’m spreading some of that love and positivity myself.  Hopefully in time that will lead to some friendships, and maybe even some readers.

 

6.  Social media is a WTF

I don’t know if I will ever crack the beast that is social media.  Twitter is like a bunch of people shouting into a void, I only realise a moment was Instagram-worthy once it’s passed me by, and I don’t even know what a Snapchat is.  I’ve been putting pressure on myself to jump into the rapids of social media, but it’s like that swimming lesson all over again.  So I think for now, I’ll just stick to working on my blog and joining in with linkies.

Speaking of which…

 

7.  I love linkies

Whilst its clear that not everyone plays fair, linkies have been by far the best way for me to get my posts noticed.  And also to feed my blog reading addiction, but that’s maybe not always a good thing (see #4).  Some linkies are better than others for people reading and commenting, and I think those will be the ones I focus on to help get me established.

 

8.  My blog is already evolving

I started this as a place to chart my health efforts, but already I’ve found that I can’t talk about health without talking about my pregnancy.  And I’m actually enjoying bringing my role as a mother into my blog.  I think it’s way too early to try to force myself into a niche…maybe I wont ever have one.  And I’m not going to avoid certain topics just because they don’t fit.

 

9.  I need to take more photos

And to use this as an opportunity to really get to grips with what my camera can do.  There’s nothing worse than delaying a post because I don’t have an image to go with it, and using stock pictures makes me feel like I’m cheating a bit!  I’m going to be realistic, I’m probably never going to have the beautiful sorts of images I drool over on other blogs and a flat lay sounds more like a crap shag than something I could carry off, but I’m going to have fun trying.

 

10.  I’m excited about what the next few months will bring

Ok, so there will be a new baby in that time, which is the most exciting thing ever.  But blog-wise, I’m just curious to see what I can make of this place.  Hopefully I can get some more readers, and start to feel more comfortable and confident about what I’m doing here!

 

 

Help a girl out – do you have any tips for a newbie like me?  Or maybe you could just lend me some moral support by following me on Twitter or Bloglovin’ – who knows, your blog could be my next addiction!

Cuddle Fairy
DIY Daddy Blog
My Petit Canard
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little loves [ oitnb, earworms + microsoft band ]

 

 

Oh Friday, here you are!  You’ve taken your time getting here this week, I’m knackered!  Maybe that’s the fault of the ridiculously late night I had on Saturday celebrating a friend’s birthday (who knew you could party until gone 3am, stone cold sober and 32 weeks pregnant?!), or the fact I had four days in the office dealing with frustrations, or because Hubs has been away for work all week, but I’m glad the weekend is nearly here.  The only thing we have planned is helping out at the nursery to tidy up the garden (to be fair, I don’t think I’ll be getting my hands as dirty this year), so I plan on doing a whole lot of chilling out.

But before then, I want to celebrate the little things that have helped me get through the week…

Read…

…The Weekenders: Travels in the Heart of Africa – a collection of writing about Sudan published back in 2001 when a group of authors and journalists visited the war-torn south of the country.  They then wrote inspired by their time there and published it to raise funds and awareness.  I’m not sure I can say this book has taught me anything more about the political side of the conflict, which still wages on even now, but to be honest I’m more interested in the human aspect and I feel this book has struck a note in that respect.  I’ve never read a short story or writing collection – especially when it’s been written by a number of different authors – and been blown away by every single piece…but to be honest I’ve not really been all that excited reading any of the pieces in this book.  It started off on a high note with Alex Garland’s very short story, but other than that it’s been a bit bland.  I think its mission is stronger than its individual components, which I suppose is fine in a charity effort, but it’s not going to end up on my favourites shelf!  I’m still glad I read it though, as I feel it taught me something.

 

Watched…

Hubs and I have a lot of series that we watch together, and I don’t have many that I watch on my own as our tastes are pretty similar, but I’ve enjoyed having control of the tv this week!  Orange Is The New Black is a show Hubs just wasn’t interested in (although I think he’s kicking himself now that he’s seen the odd bit!).  So I took advantage of having the telly to myself and finished season three this week, which I know means I’m at least two years behind everyone else, but that’s nothing new!  I love OITNB, it’s so funny but it tackles some really important issues.  And, y’know…Alex Voss #girlcrush.

 

Heard…

I’ve been in the office a lot this week, and when I am I treat myself to a cappuccino from our café.  But with that, I run the gauntlet of the dreaded earworm.  God love ’em, I think the women who work in the café are wonderful…but their taste in music is fucking horrific.  I come away from the counter clutching my yummy caffeine hit (don’t judge, one hit a day is my only pregnancy vice), but invariably with a 70’s disco classic lodged in my brain.  This week’s highlight low point has been Yes Sir I Can Boogie

 

Wore

My wardrobe is very limited by pregnancy, but for the party over the weekend I wore a denim-look maternity dress I bought from Asda way before I even started showing.  I’ve only worn it a handful of times – I bought it for work but it creases in quite unflattering ways which made it look a bit scruffy.  But in the dimmed lights it was fine, and I got a lot of compliments from my friends which is always nice!

 

Made…

I always struggle here, with food being the only thing I really make…and I’ve not even done that this week!  With Hubs being away and the kids always being fed by their grandparents when I’m in the office, I didn’t really have incentive to cook.  I was just going to have eggs every night, but my mum has insisted on feeding me instead.  So I suppose you could say I’ve made appreciative noises?!  It’s always nice when someone cooks for you.

 

…& Finally

Clearing out my storage at work in preparation for maternity leave (four weeks to go!), I found the charger for my Microsoft Band.  I’ve been looking for that ruddy thing for ages!  After fighting with it to connect to my new phone, it’s now strapped back on to my wrist…and I’ve been appalled at how inactive I am during the day.  Although I’ve kept up my exercise during this pregnancy, I’ve been moving less during the day as walking is really uncomfortable.  Not much I can do about that now, but I’ll be interested to see how my stats change once I’m out walking with the pram every day!

 

Little Loves Coffee Work Sleep Repeat
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little loves [ chocolate, jake gyllenhaal + hypnobirthing ]

 

Friday has caught me off guard a bit this week – the days felt as if they were dragging and then all of a sudden here we are nearly at the weekend.  It’s been a bit of a strange week for me anyway, where I’ve alternated between days where I’ve felt I could conquer the world and others where I felt as if I was trying to run through treacle.  The joys of late pregnancy!

But Friday means time to reflect on what has brightened my days this week, and there has been a lot…

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#littleloves [ toni morrison, nearly naked feet + a cute food diary ]

I love that Friday has come around again.  Plus, I have a three day weekend ahead of me once I finish up tonight.  Admittedly that weekend does contain a play date, a kid’s birthday party and a swim meet, so neither restful nor my idea of bliss, but at least it doesn’t include work and takes me one step closer to maternity leave.  I’m now past the 30 week mark!

After all the fun of London and Legoland last week, this has been a routine and not very exciting seven days.  But that isn’t to say there haven’t been some highlights, so check out what Little Loves have brightened my days this week…

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