26/08/2015

Book Review - The Bone Clocks


At first glance, The Bone Clocks is what I would call a hefty book. I had not read any Mitchell books before this one, so did not know what to expect - all I had to go on was that it was a large tome, had beautiful cover illustrations, and had been longlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2014. As I started the first part of the book, "A Hot Spell", set in 1984, my first thoughts were that it was readable, and that Mitchell has a lovely writing style that draws you in. I personally get tired of authors who write page-long descriptions of a tree or a roof - for me, the talented writers are the ones who can paint that same picture in just a few sentences, and Mitchell is one of them.

Having said this, I then got to page 42-43 and things rapidly changed; the plot and style of the book suddenly warped into a psychodelic, chaotic and fantastical setting, and I couldn't keep up with the change of pace. I found myself turning back a few pages - had I missed something? An explanation which would have helped this part to make sense? However get to page 45, and we're back on familiar territory again, learning about the protagonist Holly Sykes and her life in Gravesend. A short, weird, and what appears to be random burst of fantasy slotted into the chapter - but I can assure you it's not random.

20/08/2015

September Stationery

Every year when September is on the horizon, even though it has been a long time since I have had to prepare a rucksack and pencil case for school, I feel the need to treat myself to some new stationery. So many shops introduce beautiful new ranges each autumn, with pens, notebooks, diaries and general desk items calling out to me from the window displays. I have always been a stationery fiend, and I don't think that will ever change!

I recently treated myself to some lovely organisational things, so I thought I would share these with you, as well as a few items which have caught my eye on the high street and online. Race you to the tills!

2015-16 Black Floral Diary & Bird Print Notebook


Even though I have my trusty Filofax which has been attached to me for the past five years or so, I like to have a separate diary for work related things - in here I write down deadlines for projects, meetings and my to-do lists, whereas I keep my Filofax reserved for personal and social goings-on. This method really works for me, as I think if I had all of those things written down in one place, it would be completely illegible! 

In my opinion, WHSmith always produce great diaries, and this black floral design is simply gorgeous. It has a two page per week view which I think provides an ideal amount of space for writing, and the pattern almost looks like something from the V&A!

Whilst perusing the shelves, I also spotted this bird print notebook which I simply had to add to my basket - the cover has a glossy, protective layer (good for those early morning, clumsy coffee spillages) and every other page has a special box for the date, a very useful feature for me. The pages are nice and thick too. There were lots of different designs to choose from - I won't lie, I did spend about half an hour trying to decide which one was prettiest, but I'm very happy with the one I went for!

15/08/2015

Review - The Great British Bake Off: Episode 2

A lot of people were looking forward to this week's episode of Bake Off. Why? Because it was biscuit week! What would the bakers be faced with this series? 3D biscuit scenes and florentines like last year? Oh no.... Mary and Paul got a whole lot meaner this time.

Image credit: sofeminine.co.uk

The episode kicked off with Mel instructing the bakers, in an amusing Italian accent, to produce 24 identical biscotti for their Signature challenge. As usual, each of the bakers say hello and tell us what they are planning on baking - and as usual, Paul raises his eyebrows questioningly at most of the bakers' ideas. Oh Paul, you cruel man. For me, the most appealing sounding biscotti are Mat's (cranberry, pistachio and white chocolate - very similar to Paul's suggestion of cranberry, hazelnut and chocolate) and Sandy's (fig, hazelnut and chocolate). Yum. The camera pans around the tent to show all of the bakers with sticky hands as they make their mixture. It looks fairly messy work, and then we are greeted with the first innuendo of the episode from Tamal () : "It's very wet, is everyone else's not?"... Oh Tamal.

Ian is using his home grown rosemary in his biscotti (Paul describes this as "interesting"), Ugne is making white wine biscotti (now that's what I call interesting) and contestant Paul is creating a chocolate dough with hazelnuts. The judges advise him that it can be tricky to know if chocolate dough is baked due to its colour - I've been there many times, my friend! 

Next up we see that Marie is having a bit of trouble with her biscotti... A beautiful conversation ensues between her and Paul, which involves her telling him to be nice to her because she's going home, and that he has a lovely face. Hilarious!


"I'll tell you what happened."


"Oh, I like that face!"

12/08/2015

10 Reasons Why I Wish Harry Potter Was Real

So today's post may be a little silly. It may be a little childish. But judging from the response I received to featuring the Harry Potter series in my #10BookChallenge, I'm guessing that quite a few of you are also massive HP fans.

I remember on my first day of university, the day I moved into halls, being incredibly nervous. Who isn't? But once I found out that one of my flatmates was just as big a Harry Potter fan as me, I knew it would be OK. A couple of years later we made a trip to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour together (one of the best days of my life), and a few years later still I am lucky enough to call her one of my best friends. I reckon HP had a small part to play in that!

So this post is for all of you whose childhoods involved poring over the books continually, dressing up as Hermione when you went to see the film at your local Odeon (no, just me?) and queuing outside book shops to get your hands on books 5-7. Here are the 10 reasons why I wish Harry Potter was real.

1. Diagon Alley


Image credit - harrypotter.wikia.com

The first time I read about Diagon Alley, I was desperate to go there. Fellow book lovers will appreciate how much I want to visit Flourish and Blotts; you'd probably be able to nab a free cone or two at Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour, and who isn't curious about the Love Potions, Extendable Ears and Ten-Second Pimple Vanishers from Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes? Also, there's Ollivanders - of course I want a wand!

10/08/2015

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Regular visitors to my blog will know how much I love baking (I'm incredibly excited that GBBO is back on our screens), but until very recently there was a particular type of cake which I had yet to tackle: vegan cake.

The perfect opportunity for me to remedy this came up earlier this month, when I offered to bake my sister-in-law's birthday cake. Her and her partner are both vegan, so there really was no way out of it! I started off by Googling for some inspiration, and was fairly surprised at the limited options available - there really aren't that many recipes for vegan birthday cakes on the internet, it seems. But then I stumbled upon a beautiful recipe from one of my favourite chefs - Jamie Oliver.

I adapted the recipe here and there, bought myself an array of dairy-free ingredients, and set aside a few hours to produce what I hoped would be a yummy cake.

I have to say, I was pretty pleased with the result!


09/08/2015

Lovely Lynmouth

On the second day of my visit home to see my parents (and my spaniel), we decided to pay a visit to Lynmouth, a beautiful village in Devon. We had been here a few times when I was younger, and thought it would be the perfect way to spend a sunny day.


Our journey to get there took us across Exmoor, a breath-taking National Park in the south west of England where I spent a lot of my childhood. I had to keep asking my dad to stop the car so I could get out and take photos - even though I had seen those views many times before!


06/08/2015

Hotchpotch at Home

As those of you who follow me on Instagram may have noticed, I recently travelled home to spend a few days with my lovely parents. I have some time off, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to pop back and see them.

My train journey went fairly quickly, as I was engrossed in my latest read The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, and before I knew it we had arrived at my stop. I jumped off onto the platform, my bag smelling quite strongly of lavender from the little soap I had bought for my mum, and made my way into the town.

I stopped off for an hour in Coffee #1 to meet one of my oldest friends for a much-needed catch up over cappuccino and cake. We had so much to talk about - our travels, work, boyfriends, what our friends had been up to. I feel so lucky to have such lovely friends (soppy moment, sorry). It's not easy to stay in touch after sixth form as everyone embarks for different universities, and even more difficult as people start jobs and even move abroad. But a group of us have remained close, and I love them all to bits. Back to the coffee shop - an hour and a half flew by, and it was time to track down my family and get my lift home!

I found my mother and grandmother in one of the nearby shops, and the first thing my mum said was, "Wow! Look at your top!" I beamed proudly. It was, after all, brand new.

Review - The Great British Bake Off: Episode 1

We had all been counting down the days for weeks (heck, months). Our measuring spoons were ready, we'd saved up the naughty innuendos, and had run to the shops in blind panic when we thought we might not have cake in the house for the occasion. What on earth am I talking about? Well, the first episode of the Great British Bake Off of course!

Copyright BBC / Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon

04/08/2015

The Perfect Lazy Weekend

Last weekend was one of the laziest we've had in a while - and it was lovely. As you know, I'd not been at my healthiest earlier this month, plus we'd been busy hosting family and chasing sheep. So it was quite nice to have a free weekend to just relax!

03/08/2015

The 10 Book Challenge

Today I am very excited to introduce you all to something fabulous which I have been keeping secret for weeks now. It's been so tricky not to spill and tell you, but finally I can reveal: today I am launching The 10 Book Challenge!

If you're one of those people who can't help but have a quick peek in Waterstones every time you walk past, who got overly excited when the Man Booker longlist was announced last Wednesday, and who watches film adaptations whilst loudly muttering, "Well it's no where near as good as the book..." - then this is going to be right up your street!


01/08/2015

What I've Been Pinning {July}

I've recently become ever so slightly addicted to Pinterest, and I'm sure I'm not the only one! Here's a glimpse at things that have caught my eye and been pinned this month...

English Wedding


INSTAGRAM | @secretmaggiemay