Classics Challenge 2016 #2 -February

Book 2, February’s book, for the 2016 Classics Challenge (join 400+ other people reading a classic each month of 2016!) is …..


“The crime was a psychological accident, virtually an impersonal act; the victims might as well have been killed by lightning.”

Written in 1966, Truman Capote called In Cold Blood the first “non-fiction novel”. Based on the true life murder of the Clutter family which took place in Holcomb, USA in November 1959, the book goes into huge detail about the investigation, capture, trial and finally the execution of the killers. The reconstruction of the murder is chilling and detailed – Capote was said to have made approximately 8,000 pages of research notes. Not only do you feel as if you knew the neighbours and friends of the victims, but you have a huge insight into the lives of the Clutter family and indeed the killers themselves.

In Cold Blood took me a long time to read. At times its pace was fast and captivating so that you wanted to go on reading to find out more. At other times it was slow and meandering and, it seemed to me, a little irrelevant in places.

With a “traditional” work of non-fiction you are presented with facts and allowed to make your own opinions about the subjects in that book. In this book Capote plays with your emotions. His clever imagery leads you to care for the family, despite their somewhat complicated life, and you are even left with some feelings of empathy for one of the killers.

In reading the book it is sometimes hard to remember that it is a true life story, not a work of fiction. It’s lack of sensationalism puts modern day journalism to shame. Presentation of the facts is key. Capote tries to get to the heart of the matter, to understand why the killers did what they did, in a cool, calm and detailed manner with no screaming headlines. It’s a book which seems to talk to you on a “normal” level rather than trying to grip you with hype and fabrication as we have come to expect from modern tabloid journalism.

It’s not a nice book. I can’t say I liked it. But there is something about it. Capote’s NEED to find out the details, to try to understand, to follow it from the very beginning to the very end is captivating. I’ve never read anything like it in the past and I’m not completely convinced that I’d like to in the future.



My Sunday Photo – 28/02/2016


Whilst we usually manage at least one trip to Blackbury Camp during bluebell season, we’ve never thought to go at any other time of year before, so far as I can remember.

Wednesday this week was my last day working at the library, with my official finish date tomorrow. It’s been a wonderful place to work and the last day was quite sad. When I finished my husband picked me up and we thought it would be nice to go for a walk to give me time to try to gather my thoughts and pull my head back together. We were originally heading down to the beach for a walk along the front, but when I saw the sun setting and noticed the shadows and colours it was creating as we were driving along, I put forward the idea of stopping at Blackbury Camp for a look.

After initially worrying that it would be too muddy underfoot, we only had to do a little bit of careful walking to get to more solid ground and really were rewarded by glorious sights. I have a thing about “naked” trees (oo-er!) so to finally be able to take photos of some was a treat. It was also a good excuse to try out my new camera. I was quite pleased with the results and, when we finally left I did feel much better. Just goes to show that you ought to make an effort to visit your regular haunts at different times of the year.

Linking up with – please click on the link and join in the fun!




W is for … White Stuff #A-ZPhotoChallenge


Don’t reallyIMG_0080 need many words to explain this one, but since when has that stopped me?!

It is a lovely idea from White Stuff – they want YOU to help them raise £16K for their local shop charities by creating your own unique patch – see the photographed leaflet for details.

You can pick up your patch from your local shop and then return it, decorated, to the shop by 10th March. Your local shop will be having a tea, cake and judging event which sounds right up my street!

The winner from each shop will receive a £50 White Stuff voucher and go forward for a chance to win a crafting holiday in Italy.

BUT, the best thing is that for every patch entered White Stuff will donate £5 to your local shop’s charity AND all of the patches will become part of a cushion or quilt that will be sent to your shop’s charity. Now, that really is a win/win situation!

If you’d like to see more details, or for some inspiration, check out or pop into your store. If you can’t get into your local store to drop off your completed patch, you can submit it by post, so don’t let that stop you!

If you’re going to take part in this great challenge, I’d love to see what you come up with! #WSAreYouThready









Not sure?

Here’s a photo of the kit you can buy from White Stuff to get you inspired!  Go on, challenge yourself and raise money for charity too!


A Gate For All Seasons – January


This one is totally self indulgent, but if you have your own blog, then why not?!

This is the view I see every day when I walk into town. It’s a great one, in my opinion, and one that changes through the seasons… why not take a monthly photo of it just to see if it changes as much as I think it does?!

The most problematic thing about it is that there’s a big grey bin just to the left of the gate. Do I include that in my photo as the view of the hill (Dumpdon) is better from further back, but other than Photoshopping the bin is coming along to play too? Well, just go with the flow I think!

I’m not quite sure why these posts are so important. It’s not like it’s a mysterious gate as I do know what’s behind it. Many, many years ago I used to babysit for the people who owned the house behind the gate, so I know that it leads to a lovely garden…..but there is an air of mystery about it.

Anyway, here’s a distance one where I did miss the bin….and include the random lamppost and grit bin instead!



Classics Challenge 2016 – January (ahem!)

Okay, so I’m a little late with my post, but at least I am doing it, and I really have been reading my classics diligently! In fact I’m already on number 3. I’d be looking for Brownie points (happy World Thinking Day by the way!) if I wasn’t so late….

So, book number 1 for me was….


I have to admit, although I’d heard of it, I knew nothing about it so was reading, effectively, blind. I found the recommendation from a very handy list from our mentor Stacey who came up with this whole brilliant idea in the first place. Read all about the Classics Challenge 2016 on the Pretty Books Blog.

Working in a library, the thought of burning books was an intriguing one and I thought beginning with a “modern” classic would be a good way to break myself in gently.

I’m not sure that “enjoyed” is the right way to describe the way I felt about this thought provoking book. It’s quite scary that 60+ years earlier a lot of Ray Bradbury’s “predictions” of life in the future are pretty accurate.

As well as the physical burning of books and the reading of books being a crime punishable by death, lack of social and personal contact are big themes and, well, we all know that is the direction in which life is moving at present with social media keeping us at arms-length from face to face contact a lot of the time, as well as the meteoric rise of reality tv shows encouraging us to watch life from a distance rather than take part personally.

Interestingly, in Bradbury’s world the citizens police themselves and the book burning and other conformity is widely accepted and, indeed, embraced.

The violence in the book is shocking – the burning of a colleague, a mechanical hound hunting down it’s prey, attempted suicide and more – but the reaction of those who witness these things is even more shocking. A huge wake up call. If Bradbury wrote this 60 years ago and we are rapidly heading in the direction of his predictions without having taken heed of those words, is there hope for future generations? Are things like consideration for others and a wide and rich education becoming things of the past?

We need to grasp, embrace and act upon the equally strong positive messages of the story….

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.”

“It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

So, what are you going to leave behind….?



Pin Up Boy! #AnimalTales


Well, when Shadow came to live with us we had no idea about his secret career as a Calendar Cat! We have a constant stream of girl cats knocking down the cat flap trying to get in to get his paw print – honestly, we could do with kittyguards on the door 24/7 to keep off the caterwauling fans!


Okay, perhaps that’s not entirely true, but when Shadow first came to live with us you may remember he was a very shy and nervous boy who had a myriad of hiding places. When he began to settle down, this was one of the first photos I managed to get of him playing with one of his new toys. I was so pleased at the change in him that I sent the photo to the local Cats Protection to show them the transformation. I had an email back from them to ask whether I’d like enter Shadow’s photo into the competition to appear in their fundraising calendar – well, of course! I was so pleased to see that he “made it” and is October’s pin-up, which is quite appropriate given that 27th October is National Black Cat Day!

It’s a really beautiful calendar full of lots of local rescued cats and a great idea as I’m sure all of the owners of its starring cats bought at least one copy, like us!

So, if you’d like to form an orderly queue, Shadow will be available soon for autographs…..!  I’ll leave you with a photo of Obie, yet another local stunning pin-up. Aren’t we rich in handsome kitties around here?!