Monthly Archives: December 2012

I have been…

I Have Been:

I found this on Roofbeam reader’s site and I liked the look of it


Not so much. A little bit at New Europe, a bit on here and sometimes in my head, working on that novel.

That novel is proving quite difficult emotionally. I wish my subconscious would be a little more light-hearted. Here’s what I wrote on the morning of the attack on the little Chinese children and the killings in Newtown (some hours before they occurred, I hasten to add) and I can’t bring myself to write anymore yet:

The white casket seemed too small to have to spend the rest of its time under the earth on its own so Roisin thought she would go with it. No one held her back as she walked forward and stepped on the ground that was slowly sinking down. Face down, body in contact she felt all the pain flowing through her chest and there was the sound of wailing. Was she wailing she wondered? She couldn’t make a sound, hadn’t spoken in three months so it couldn’t be her. No need for noise as she started to hit her head against the wood. Twice she made contact before hands grabbed her and lifted her away. Too little, she thought. Too little


I’ve been more successful with my reading if a little more promiscuous. I start many things but finish few. I am up to M on my A-Z challenge and have started the award-winning Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I find it difficult to enjoy historical settings however so it’s a huge struggle. I am reading Vagina by Naomi Wolf and Your Many Faces by Virginia Satir. The latter is (or was?) a renowned family therapist and I wanted to learn about techniques that could help us lead a happy / healthy (happier / healthier) family life but it seems more about discovering yourself. It’s very good so far. Wolf’s book is a little more contentious as it was widely mocked and ridiculed when first published so I wanted to read it for myself.

It’s not an easy read as part of it delves into the brutalisation of women. There is much of interest. Some of the reviews I read mocked the pro-Assange views and the ultra-femininity but didn’t mention the horrors that women face such as female genital mutilation, and the mass rapes and torture that women experience in war. I believe that Wolf’s thesis is that we’ve come from a time when women used to be sacred and now they are regularly abused and defined by their sexuality.


I’ve been listening to Jonathan Coulton who seems to have a Banksy-esque style of juxtaposing contexts to provide much mirth (as well as political insights). My favourite is Good morning Tucson which starts with the line “It’s still so dark because it’s still so early”to which I listen on the way to the station for my early train in the dark.


I’ve just finished watching the Killing series one and the number of themes I could write about from that grows every time I think about it. Lundt is a single mother, she works in a police department which lies, is political and bureaucratic and uses almost criminal techniques to get what it wants; Lundt practically abandons her son in the process of the investigation but it’s hard to see how she could have avoided it; the political system in Denmark hints at issues with immigration and integration and the complexities of political dynamics.


At the bottom of Park Street at the pop up art gallery Antlers there are some beautiful pictures of Bristol and other places. I wish I had the money to do more than look. I’ve also been looking at Christmas lights on College Green and along the harbour.


My favourite thing.

I’ve been studying a MOOC as one of around 85,000 students at Duke University. I’ve been watching the lectures on my phone and doing the quizzes and I used the inter-library loan system to borrow the course book. The amount I still have to learn about arguing is astonishing. I have also signed up for two more courses on data analysis from Harvard and John Hopkins university respectively. I’ve also signed up to a gender in comics course.


Tired. Intrigued. Constantly amazed at how we managed to create another human being. Too tired for most other emotions but quietly aware that nothing stays the same.


The Mousetrap at the Bristol Hippodrome in 2013.

The Killing series two and three.

Running again. Bristol 10k in May.


For enough energy to be inspired by life.


Scandinavian thrillers – Jo Nesbo and the Killing so far.

My little girl’s feet, her bouncing, her singing, her dancing and her laughing and her tummy.

– the fact that we’re still here after the Mayan apocalypse.

White chocolate syrup.
Chinese food.
Netflix on my phone.
EBooks on my phone.

Happy 2013.










A Monday’s adventures around Bristol

Our day yesterday, starting from the end and wandering all over the place.

At night
M was having a brilliant night of running in and out of rooms around the flat. From the living room, to our room, to my housemate’s room she would reach up on tippy toe and push / pull the door shut or open. She would tell me to go to sleep by stroking* my face and hair and going daaa. *battering

All was just grand until she got her finger trapped in the door and started screaming. Poor tiny.

Just before that
She has a bit of a cough so we went to the GP. At the doctor’s she played with the toy bus, car and one of those metal wire frames all tangled with more wire and beads and embedded in a wooden base. She got bored after 20 minutes though and moved on to the Christmas tree with its shiny decorations.

While being examined she was told to breathe out strongly and she did. And then again and again and a few times. I was amazed. The doctor found her quite cute (she actually said “she’s so cute”). She was indeed very cute and said Bye! and waved goodbye as we were leaving.

In Boots, m saw a toy section in a shop for the first time and was mesmerized. I think she showed incredible self restraint after bringing some fun toys to me and then taking them back when I asked her to. She doesn’t know that they’re not all hers. I think the library and other soft play places have helped with that.

I dud buy her a few things but a couple were quite inexpensive. A Hello Kitty hand wash dispenser and a 99p book in the shape of a truck, with flaps, and driven by Dora’s cousin Diego. She carried this all the way home, even when in her pouch and in the rain. She was a bit upset that it was getting wet.

On our way through the Galleries shopping centre there was a carousel that was coin operated. She loved it. I put her on one of the horses and she noticed the button where you put coins in was all lit up so she kept pressing it. It must have had some credit because music started and the horses began to go around and around. She got scared though and wanted to be taken off.

We stood and watched and then headed home.




Oh and we tried on some glasses:



Serious face


Vivi in Bristol Stile

Peroni paid me to do visit some places featured on this app so I could try it and write about it. Bristol Vivi in Stile has food and drink and clothes and pretty things. I care nought for the pretty things and clothes but give me food and I’ll gladly write and enjoy.

Vivi in Stile is an app that features places of food, drink and style by city. There are pretty pictures (very pretty pictures, after all it is Italian and all about style) and coherent, brief and informative text about each place and its location on a map.

To explore Bristol you swish through a collection of Polaroid shaped photographs and get to the one with the big mirror ball and then choose what to do.

The list of places for food and drink are actually quite good. It had Cafe Kino where the standard milk of choice is soy. It did not have the newly opened Bristolian on Picton Street where they couldn’t make a soy latte if you paid them (obviously). It had the Lido and the Townhouse which is exceedingly excellent.

They include the excellent Flinty Red, Primrose Cafe in Clifton and the Arch House Deli. It’s a style magazine about Bristol and considering that it’s not just about this lovely city then it’s pretty inclusive. Harvey Nichols’ second floor restaurant is mentioned for cocktails (they are excellent) as is the Rummer.

See the pictures:

The screenshots were provided to me because I don’t know how to do screenshots on my phone but note the distance listed on each place so you can see how far everything is from where you are.

It’s free!

Links to download the app – Apple: & Android:

White chocolate syrup recipe for coffee

I no longer need Starbucks (or a boyfriend), I have white chocolate syrup and it is better than good. I used this recipe from but didn’t have some of the original ingredients so substituted.

Here’s my version:

1 (150 ml) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 can water
1/2 can cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon instant decaf nescafe
100g white chocolate


I added all the ingredients in together and then stirred until they reached a simmer then kept it like that for a couple of minutes and then took off the heat.

I’ve been whisking every few minutes to keep chocolate together. To finish up “pour into bottles and refrigerate. You may need to let it get to room temp at the end of the bottle.”


Read more at:

Indie shopping with the Bristol pound

my housemate is making chilli vodka for his brothers and says he will make my Christmas present this year (hopefully it will be mulled port which he makes amazingly well). This got me thinking not only of crude cheap vodka but also of tax avoidance and making my money count.

I wanted a book,you see – the Last Policeman – and I could very easily go on to Amazon and download it in seconds with a voucher which he could buy me. But that would be the end of my money in terms of benefiting anyone usefully. If I spend my money locally at a small retailer I know that it helps them directly.

According to the Bristol Pound people around 75% of money you give to a multinational leaves the area and I would rather benefit where I live and the people I know rather than rich executives and their third homes (I stole that last bit from a picture on facebook).

So this year I will buy all my Christmas (or Santa solstice-, as I prefer) presents from independent shops. One way to find them is to use Bristol Pounds but not all indy businesses take those.



So I will also spend my time thinking of what and where to buy them. Happy Santa solstice holiday!

Bingo reading challenge 2013

I saw this lots-of-fun challenge on Reading in Winter’s blog and I had to join in.

There is a bingo scoreboard

There are rules

  1. Be awesome. If you’re not, this isn’t going to work.
  2. The challenge runs from January 1 to December 31, 2013.
  3. If you want to participate, you can join in any time of the year! Feel free to write up a blog post with the rules linking back to Reading and Winter’s and Anne’s blog in your sign-up post.
  4. If you read one book for the “1 book” in any category, you can’t change it later on when you read another book to “2 books.” Once a square is crossed off, it’s crossed off for good! (Feel free to print off the scoreboard to keep track!)
  5. Books read for one square are for that square ONLY and cannot be counted towards another category. This is all about reading ALL THE BOOKS.
  6. The FREE SQUARE isn’t really a free square. In order to cross it off, you must read a book by either:
    1. Reading a book picked by another participant, or
    2. Reading a book in a genre picked by another participant.
  7. You can start your board over again, but ONLY if you receive the stamp of awesome by completing a blackout. The “winners” of the challenge will be the ones who achieve the most winning combinations by the end of 2013.
  8. You can post your reading list for each category, though it’s not a requirement.
  9. Having a blog or writing reviews for books read is not required. So long as you want to have fun, you can participate!
  10. This isn’t a race, but don’t be afraid to rub your reads in the other player’s face. This will be seen as encouragement.
  11. Feel free to use the hashtag #2013BookBingo on Twitter!

While you can definitely “win” by the boring ol’ vertical or horizontal (or diagonal!) lines, the best ways to win are as follows:

This is what I’ll be doing and I’ll be updating on this post. Not sure yet if it will be in the comments or in the post. Feel free to join in and let Kristilyn and Annie know.

What fun!

Noam Chomsky: Palestine 2012 – Gaza and the UN resolution

Noam Chomsky’s latest piece on the UN resolution on Palestine:

An old man in Gaza held a placard that reads: “You take my water, burn my olive trees, destroy my house, take my job, steal my land, imprison my father, kill my mother, bombard my country, starve us all, humiliate us all but I am to blame: I shot a rocket back.”

Read more by following the link.

The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes

From Goodreads

Helen Walsh doesn’t believe in fear – it’s just a thing invented by men to get all the money and good job – and yet she’s sinking. Her work as a Private Investigator has dried up, her flat has been repossessed and now some old demons have resurfaced.

Not least in the form of her charming but dodgy ex-boyfriend Jay Parker, who shows up with a missing persons case. Money is tight – so tight Helen’s had to move back in with her elderly parents – and Jay is awash with cash. The missing person is Wayne Diffney, the ‘Wacky One’ from boyband Laddz. He’s vanished from his house in Mercy Close and it’s vital that he’s found – Laddz have a sell-out comeback gig in five days’ time.


What I thought:

I am a huge fan of Marian Keyes’ writing. She writes strong women and brilliant dialogue which is funny, witty, serious and sexy when it needs to be. And she always addresses real issues which aren’t usually found in the chick lit genre.

In the Mystery of Mercy Close she writes about depression in the context of a detective mystery. There is also exploration of romance and family relationships.

I enjoyed reading this but sometimes it felt a little too flippant on depression although I know that Keyes herself has struggled with the debilitating condition and has been at times unable to write because of it.

I found it hard to suspend disbelief occasionally and some of the characters just didn’t have the depth which I’ve grown used to with Keyes. I found Is Anybody Out There? much better when it came to showing the characters dealing with depression and grief.

Keyes always provides a good read in her fiction however so I would certainly recommend it. I particularly like her idea of a shovel list. A list of people or things or phrases the main character would like to hit in the face with a shovel.

This is one more of the family Walsh series and the fabulous parents, especially the mother, once again play a brilliant supporting role.

Wang, Tova – The politics of voter suppression

I reviewed the Politics of Voter Suppression and you can find the article on New Europe.

Barack Obama’s reelection to the presidency of the United States was fraught not only with worry about whether he would be chosen by the people or get enough votes in the electoral college but also whether fraud would somehow alter the legitimate results.

An electronic voting machine in Perry County, Pennsylvania, selected Romney when the voter chose Obama, automated telephone messages called robo-calls in their thousands told people that the election was on Wednesday rather than Tuesday; people queued for most of the day because manipulation of voting hours meant they were likely to miss out and many states falsely advertised for the requirement of a photo id where none was needed.

Many, if not all of the above, were intentional acts of voter suppression. From state to state and from legislation to personal acts of intimidation there have been myriad ways that political parties have suppressed votes throughout the US’ election history.

Read more on New Europe .