Sunday, 20 April 2014

Dreaming of Thirlmere


We are full steam ahead wedding wise at the moment. I cannot actually believe that it is just under 2 weeks away. Sheesh. Where has this year gone? I knew it would hurtle towards me, but, come on, Easter? End of April?? Already???!  It makes our visit to Romney Marshes, to stay at the beautiful Thirlmere, a lifetime ago. The beginning of February in fact. When the UK was battered by some of the worst winter storms since, forever, a group of friends and I headed off to, errr, the coast. And a fairly flat piece of coast at that. 

I was not overly concerned about being swept away (well -  not that I admitted to at any rate), but I did take some trusty wellies and even a bag of tea lights in case we were plunged into darkness. In actual fact, the electrical lights did not so much as flicker as the wind screamed (literally -  screamed) outside this Victorian coastal stalwart. I felt like the house just sighed and said “bring it”.

 Down the end of a road, where the only place left to go is right, left or into the sea, we bundled into this 5 storey abode with much excitement and delight. A whole weekend in the kind of house we could only dream of owning (I know this for a fact thanks to a quick search on line -  never gunna happen) I immediately started to wonder about who had lived there originally? What had their lives been like? Were they haunting the place? Thankfully, the latter did not seem to be the case. We drew lots for the rooms and we landed with number 5 on the very top floor. I raced upstairs to see to be greeted with the room I had really loved on the website. What I did not love was the particularly creepy wicker cot and dolly in the corner. I had to cover it over with a blanket so that I could get to sleep.

 The beautiful dining room just off of the kitchen served its purpose very well as we took turns to cook dinner over the 2 days. For some reason, known only to my right mind, I had volunteered to cook breakfast for all 11 of us on the first morning. We had been up until at least 3am and, with everyone in the kitchen when I entered, I am not embarrassed to admit that I had to walk straight back out, in the haze of a near-to-tears-sweat-hangover-panic and go and stare out the window for a bit. 

The sea did calm me muchly. A lovely party member dispersed the crowd and I could get on with the cooking. We waited for yet another bout of rain to pass and then headed off to the perfectly flat, sandy and immense beach. We were wind battered and sun-blasted all at the same time -  which literally shook the hang over out of me.

Back to house -  which already felt like home -  we tucked into cake, sandwiches and tea. And crisps. Lots of crisps. There was snoozing, card playing and reading. Somewhere in the background I remember the Rugby being on. I might have dozed off myself. There was one massive clap of thunder which made me jump awake. Not nice. Watching another bout of howling storms roll in from the window gave me that cosy feeling you only get when you know you are safe indoors and you don’t have to leave until morning.

We said farewell to Thirlemere after a slap up breakfast of pancakes, fruit and a healthy dose of Nutella for good measure. The party left in dribs and drabs, some with long journeys home, some with a more leisurely Sundays planned. The Beard and I were the last to leave after one more blustery stroll along that beautiful beach. Before we had even said goodbye, we were already longing to come back.
This shall be my last post until after I am a Mrs. Thank you for sticking with me through this sporadic blogging phase - I plan to get back to it with gusto after all this wedding biz-niz.
See you on t'other side!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Custard Tarts & Broken Hearts ~ Mary Gibson‏ ~ book review



Heartwarming and gritty, the story of a factory girl in Bermondsey through World War 1.
They call them custard tarts - the girls who work at the Pearce Duff custard and jelly factory. But now the custard tarts are up in arms, striking for better conditions. Among them is Nellie Clark, trying to hold her family together after the death of her mother. She has the most desperate struggle to make ends meet, often going hungry to feed her little brothers.
Two men vie for Nellie's love. One is flamboyant, confident and a chancer. The other is steady, truthful and loyal. But the choice is not as easy as it might seem.
Looming over them all - over Bermondsey, over the factory, over the custard tarts and their lives and loves - is the shadow of the First World War. And that will change everything and everyone.
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Usually you buy a book for the content. Occasionally you purchase just for the cover.  Sometimes it’s the title that grabs you. Case in point -  when I saw "Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts” on Kindle -  I knew I had to investigate further. How could I not? The title still makes me smile now. Not in a mocking way -  but in a well-now-whats-that-all-about kinda way. It also left me with a hankering for custard cream biscuits. Mmmmm.
 I am still very much getting used to this new non-paper book thing of mine, so when I spotted this for a mere 58p (currently £1.41 at time of writing), I thought I’d take a punt. And I was not disappointed.
 Written with the authors own family history at the fore, it begins in 1911 in the throes of Industrial strike action, Suffragette movement and the prelude of The Great War. I was told the story of a family struggling to keep their heads above the smog of Bermondsey, London, in the height of its production. With custards and jellies, dockers , factory girls, horses and carts thrown in the mix, I was quickly swept into the life of  Nellie, her family and friends. As life moves on, through the years at a steady, but not dragging, pace, World War 1 heaves into view and the characters are faced with dilemmas of duty, conscious and heartache.
 To be honest, I was not really expecting a historical romance novel to be much cop -  especially on the historical side of the things -  but it was an engaging and warm read that I felt was very well researched and lead me to want to know more about the area and what became of Nellie Clark after the war. It was not fluffy for the most part, and made me want to keep on reading. Considering that this is the authors first novel, I am hopeful that there may be a sequel in the pipe line. 

A 7/10 from me.

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