So today is Valentine’s Day (just in case you weren’t aware with the plethora of fake pink hearts and sickly coloured balloons hung everywhere) I’m not really a fan of the day myself. Whether single or not I find any kind of enforced ‘fun’ very offputting and valentines is no exception. As soon as February rolls around the price of flowers doubles, you can’t find a birthday card for love nor money as Valentines day tat takes over Clinton’s and all restaurants up their prices and start advertising their menus with ridiculous names, a burger is a burger even if it’s served in a pink bun and called a lurve burger.
Even if you can afford to go out you have to book 6 months in advance as couples who spend the rest of the year ignoring each other feel the need to go out on the 14th. Then if you do go out, the pressure to be ‘insta’ ready and look like you are having the best time is just too much, lets be honest after a couple of years together most of us would rather just sit in front of the tv scrolling through twitter than listening to piped musak paying double the price for a meal.
Personally I’d rather spend the night reading a good book (lucky old Mr F) so if that’s you, here’s my top 5 anti-Valentine books in no particular order.
My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite A fabulous story. Admittedly there are probably easier ways to break up with someone but this is how to do it with style.
He’s just not that into you by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo Ok so this isn’t a crime fiction book, however it is one that I would recommend every single woman should read, it will change your life. (or just watch the film!) Simple but effective
Sweetpea by C J Skuse More of my normal style, this is the perfect read for anyone who has ever sat around seething about some minor gripe and hoping to do something about it. I love this series that’s been described as Bridget Jones meets Killing Eve.
Psychopaths Anonymous Just a fabulous confident woman who kills people who gets in her way. A great story with a great character. What’s not to like.
Heartsick by Chelsea Cain One of my favourite series of all time, Who doesn’t love a kick ass serial killer, and Gretchen Lowell is certainly that.
Of course that’s just my selection of non-valentine I’m sure there are lots more, but remember a love of female serial killers is for life not just February 14th!
I recently went on a little trip to Norfolk, a place I had spent a few years living as a child. It was only a short trip, with one night in Norwich and then one night in Cromer, as a visit here was one on my list of 40 things to do. Norwich was an interesting city, although unfortunately I made the mistake of going on a Monday night. Just in case anyone is planning on a holiday there, Norwich is shut on a Monday.
Tuesday night was spent in Cromer. One of my main memories from my Cromer childhood was obviously crab fishing off the pier. Many a weekend and evening were spent hanging over the pier barriers dangling a length of orange baler twine into the sea with a piece of fish on the end. Inevitably either a scary seagull would swipe the fish before it hit the sea, or the hook would get caught on the pier, never to be retrieved again. This would lead to us being ushered home in disgust for loosing yet another piece of fishing equipment. Very occasionally the line would make it down to the sea and an actual crab would be stupid enough to think a piece of Iceland’s frozen fish would be a tasty snack. All eyes would then be on the Father as he slowly winched up the line with the crab dangling off. Just when our waiting bucket might actually see a crab in it, said crab would let go of the fish and wave at us all as he made his way back down to the sea.
Nowadays of course everything is done very differently. Everyone uses nets on the end of the lines so that the crab just crawls its way in and gets hauled out whilst tucking into its fish. No skill needed whatsoever. What’s the betting all the grown up crabs are sat around drinking seaweed and liquorice tea, telling the kid crabs how health and safety has gone mad. They used to have to negotiate a bungee jump every time they wanted a bit of Iceland’s best, today’s crabs have got it easy.
My other main memory of our move to the coastal town is of staying in the Hotel du Paris on the seafront, and eating a prawn cocktail. This was the first prawn cocktail I ever ate. It had been deemed that as we were not footing the bill for this particular stay I could choose anything I wanted off the menu even though I might not like it (we are not a family known for our adventurous ways!) I remember really enjoying this particular prawn cocktail, although it was probably also the last ever prawn cocktail I had as I became a vegetarian not long after. Sadly even if I had decided I would give up the values I’ve had for the past 30 years and start eating fish again, we were there on a Tuesday. Prawn Cocktails are only served on a Thursday. Looking at the average age of those around us in the hotel I suspect that this might be because Friday is the day that the denture fixture cream arrives, so by Thursday they can only serve soft food.
We were put on the top floor which was probably also due to the age of those staying. With no working lift all the zimmer frames would have struggled to get up the stairs without at least a few of the owners not making it. The view from the room however couldn’t be faulted as we looked out across the sea and pier. We would have had an amazing view of the sunrise that we got up at 5am to watch, if a load of clouds hadn’t descended just as the sun started to rise.
For a trip back in time I would definitely recommend a visit to Cromer, as 25 years since I was last there very little had changed. Cromer is still a beautiful place. Plus it was yet another tick of the list of 40 things to do, and a visit to a National Trust house on the way out knocked off another one.
Obviously as you know this is a blog about books, and tends to stick to book related things. However in a quick book break, it’s impossible not to mention my recent holiday. Apparently most girls spend their time dreaming of their wedding day (really? Surely we can have a little more imagination in this day and age) Well it was never high on my list, I dreamt of seeing Orangutans and Sea Turtles. One of my favourite books as a child, which still makes me cry now, is called Changes in Latitudes by Will Hobbs. It’s about a family who go on holiday and the youngest brother tries to save a load of turtles. Since first reading the book I’ve always had as fascination with turtles therefore a trip to Borneo was the perfect opportunity to see them up close.
We started out in Bangkok. For me this bit was work related, which meant we got to stay in the Shangri-La hotel. 5 restaurants, 2 pools, and an outdoor bar. It was lovely, although the ten pound for a glass of wine meant that evenings were spent in Jack’s bar next door. This came complete with cheap beer, locals, wandering dogs and an open air toilet. Of course a trip to Bangkok isn’t complete without a visit to the infamous Khao San Road which was certainly an experience. However I’m not sure that a tuk tuk race through Bangkok at 3 in the morning with my boss in tow was necessarily my most career enhancing moment.
After Bangkok we had a short stopover in Kuala Lumpur. Whilst the difference in accommodation was a bit of shock, from 5 star hotel to a no windowed tiny room in the middle of Chinatown, the view from the top of the Petronas Towers made up for it.
From Kuala Lumpur we went onto Sandakan in Borneo. The town itself was a little fishing port, with only 2 bars. This was certainly a change from Bangkok where you couldn’t turn round without tripping over someone trying to sell you towers of Singha, or scorpions on sticks. Yet it was a perfect base for our trips out. We pretty much followed the plot of Paul O’Grady’s animal orphans programme. We went to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre where we watched the young orangutans learn to climb. We saw sun bears lolling in trees. We even saw a wild baby orangutan spitting it’s own wee at those trying to get a photograph (Which clearly Mr F thought was the funniest thing he had ever seen). We went on a river trip and saw Sea Eagles and Probiscus monkey’s. However the promised gibbons and pygmy elephants were clearly off on holiday themselves as they were nowhere to be seen. We also spent a night on Turtle Island, where we got to see a Green turtle lay eggs, and even got to help some hatchlings reach the sea. It was absolutely amazing.
Unfortunately as well as a large number of fridge magnets, I also managed to bring back a dodgy stomach bug, not a diet tip I’d recommend. Yet it was completely worth it. Plus the 6 different flights that we went on gave me time not only to catch up with the new version of Ghostbusters, which had me laughing out loud, but also gave me chance to catch up on some reading. Therefore normal book related service will be resumed on the blog shortly.
I love a bank holiday. Not only is it a day not having to work, it’s a free day off unlike weekends which are full of chores to be done. Plus weekends come with that pressure of a Monday morning back at work. If you have a bank holiday, the first comment on arrival at my work is ‘Where did the Bank Holiday Monday go’ Whereas after a normal weekend as soon as you bump into colleagues over the water cooler, out comes the dreaded question ‘Did you have a good weekend?’
You know it is coming and so end up desperately trying to fill the weekend with excitement just so you have something good to report to your fellow co-workers. Yet sometimes for me, weekends are just a flurry of list making, shopping and ironing. At least we always have a trip to the pub at some point. To be fair though where I work it’s not hard to win the accolade of most fun weekend. Past highlights from colleagues include: the opening of a coffee shop in the nearest service station, washing the windows (with accompanying diagrams), and the purchase of a new label maker to label their kitchen cabinets (from a middle aged married woman not a student flat sharer)
I don’t think bank holidays come with that pressure. It’s not a weekend, it’s a free day off so therefore if you want to sit around all day in pyjamas watching back to back episodes of Criminal Minds then it’s ok. It’s not such a waste.
However living on a street where the average age is 125 means that to most of our neighbours every day is a bank holiday. Not for them a nice long lie in and a day in front of the television. Oh no, bank holidays are a great opportunity for socialising. Especially as Mondays are also bin day. I remember the good old days when bin collections used to be put back a day when it was a bank holiday, not anymore. 6 o clock in the morning and people are banging around putting the rubbish out. Despite the fact that I’ve never seen the bin people turn up before 11am apparently there is always that danger that if you don’t have it out by 7am you might miss it and that as we know would be a disaster, especially if it’s been a busy week for the chopper. (see here for explanation)
There is added excitement at the moment, as there are two empty houses on the street, which means empty dustbin space up for grabs. I suspect that the dustbins are the substitute water cooler for people round here. As soon as it gets light the neighbours meet at the end of the street to plan their bin attack. Any spare bit of space in any unguarded wheelie bin is filled with the rubbish of others. The neighbours might be old but they can’t half move fast when the wheelie bins go out.
I am aware that I may have become a little obsessed by the rubbish disposal on the street, luckily it happens on a Monday so I only get to indulge on a bank holiday. Imagine if it was a Saturday, and I had to answer the dreaded question, Did you have a nice weekend? Yes thanks I spent all Saturday observing the bin habits of my neighbours. I think its probably a good job I do have chores to be done on a weekend or this habit could get out of control.