A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Friday, 29 July 2016

To Be Continued by James Robertson - Book Review

To Be Continued by James RobertsonThe latest release from James Robertson is a heart-warming, yet slightly surreal tale about the adventures of Douglas Findhorn Elder. A journalist who, as he celebrates his 50th birthday realises that his life is in a sorry state. Recently separated from his girlfriend, he's also lost his job at a local newspaper and his father admitted to a nursing home.

Enter Mungo Forth Mungo, a talking toad who introduces himself as Douglas celebrates his 50th birthday alone by getting drunk and sitting out on the back porch.

Without work to keep him preoccupied, Douglas embarks on writing a novel about nothing in particular and secures some freelance work from his former editor at the newspaper. His mission is to interview former MP, Rosalind Munlochy, as she celebrates her 100th birthday and to find out how she voted in the Scottish referendum.

In this novel Man and toad forge an unlikely friendship and embark on a journey together from Edinburgh to Glentarager House in the Scottish Highlands. The journey is beset with challenges and along the way he meets an assortment of eccentric characters who aren't all they seem. 

Toad at night

Douglas could be anyone who's experiencing a midlife crisis, but attempting to remain philosophical in the face of adversity. I loved the hints of eccentricity and wry humour throughout the book. 

I suspect that we could all do with a talking toad, or something similar (and preferably cuter) in our lives. Mungo Forth Mungo is a modern day fairy godmother with warts on, (pun intended). He's also infinitely wiser and opinionated with his own unique and horribly accurate take on the world around him.  

The ending is well-rounded, rather sublime and plays to the theory that life can change for the better often when you least expect it - just as long as you're open to ideas and willing to take a chance.

Not my usual kind of read, but thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless.

Rating 4/5

Thanks to Penguin Books for the advance copy.
Release date: 4th August 2016.

To Be Continued by James Robertson

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton
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Monday, 25 July 2016

Win a set of Christian Lacroix Correspondence Cards

Christian Lacroix, Riviera Correspondence Cards, GiveawayI have always loved paper. As a teen I used to write letters to an assortment of penfriends all over the world and receiving a letter in return was often the highlight of my day. This was back in the 1980s when email, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media network for that matter had yet to be invented.

Fast forward more years than I care to remember and receiving a hand written letter or card is still a thing of beauty. Although, sadly it's becoming increasingly rare as social media and email take over as more efficient means of communication.

How many of us will remember an email or message via social media in years to come I wonder? Whereas a letter or card can be cherished forever and reminisced over whenever you feel the inclination to riffle through a box filled with memories.

Keeping in touch
While my daughters were away at university I wrote to each of them regularly. Letters were mostly filled with snippets of news from home, random doodles and nonsensical gossip. As Sophia is away working at Camp America for the summer, the tradition continues. Her weekly letter is eagerly anticipated and helps her feel not so very far away from home.

Win a set of Christian Lacroix correspondence cards
To inspire my readers to make the most of snail mail and make someone's day with a personalised note, I have a set of Christian Lacroix Riviera Correspondence cards to give away. These are perfect for informal invitations, short notes, or simply to say thank you.

Chhristian Lacroix, Riviera Correspondence Cards, Giveaway

This stylish set includes 12 flat cards with envelopes (6 designs, 2 of each) and 12 embossed foil stickers.

Christian Lacroix, Riviera Correspondence Cards, Giveaway

Terms and conditions
  • Entrants must be 16 or over and resident in the UK
  • The competition closes at 12am on 15th August 2016
  • The prize winner will be chosen at random and contacted via Twitter within 48 hours 
  • In the event that I cannot make contact with the winner after 7 days, another winner be selected at random.
To be in with a chance of winning, simply click on the Rafflecopter link below...

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Friday, 22 July 2016

The Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast road signA drive down the Amalfi Coast from Sorrento to Positano and beyond reveals breath-taking vistas at each and every turn. Terraced vineyards, fragrant lemon groves cascading down to the shore and pastel-hued villas cling precariously to the unlikeliest of slopes. The coast's outstanding Mediterranean landscape with its unique blend of cultural and natural value have earned it a well-deserved place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. 

During the summer months the traffic is horrendous. With buses, cars, scooters and coaches all vying for space along the coastal road. As there are so many hairpin bends to negotiate, it's perhaps fortunate that vehicles don't have chance to build up speed. Somehow it all just seems to work out fine in the end and the drivers are far more patient than I imagined.

Amalfi Coast road, Italy

Positano was one of Italy's best kept secrets before John Steinbeck's visit in 1953. He wrote, 'Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn't quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone. More than sixty years later Positano has lost none of its intrigue and charm.

In Positano's near vertical streets, the houses are a photogenic blend of pink, peach and terracotta. Positano is undoubtedly Amalfi's jewel with its chic restaurants, elegant shopping and price tags to match. The beach (Marina Grande) with its grey sand and pebbles has fenced-off areas with chairs and umbrellas for hire, but the crowded public areas are free and the views just as striking.

Top tip: arrive early. The town is picture perfect and that makes Positano a popular tourist haunt. It's narrow streets can make it feel crowded, but if you're brave enough to tackle the near vertical climb from the harbour, restaurants and shops you'll soon lose the crowds.

Positano, Italy, Amalfi Coast

Nestled between the mountains and the sea, Amalfi is famed for its original architecture and scenic beauty. In the 11th century Amalfi once rivalled the ports of Venice and Genoa until an earthquake in 1343 caused most of the city to slide into the sea. 

Amalfi's cathedral (Duomo di Sant' Andrea) is one of the few reminders of the city's illustrious maritime past. Built originally in the 10th century, the cathedral's carved bronze doors were cast in Constantinople around 1000 AD.

Top tip: meander away from Piazza Duomo to find competitively priced cafes and restaurants.

Amalfi, Italy

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton

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Sunday, 10 July 2016

The Week That Was... 10th July 2016

It's been an interesting week. One of those where you think everything's under control, only to realise that life has a tendency to change the best laid plans. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just needed more juggling and time management than I'd imagined. I'm optimistic that the week ahead will be a quieter one as we're off on holiday...  

If I'm not around much during the next week it's because we're on holiday to Sorrento. This will be my first trip to Italy and I'm looking forward to quaffing Prosecco, sampling authentic Italian food and exploring the Amalfi Coast along with Mr A and daughter, Olivia. Hopefully there will be lots to write about when I arrive home.

I'll be reading Moving, the latest release from Jenny Eclair (who also happens to be one of my favourite authors) while I'm away. If I love it as much as I've loved everything else she's written, there may be a review at a later date.

For those of you who don't know already, both daughters received 2:1s in their chosen degree subjects. Obviously, I am one very proud mum and can't wait for their graduation ceremonies during the same week in September.

We enjoyed a Skype call with daughter, Sophia, in Oregon as she was celebrating Independence Day and staying at a friend's house from camp. Modern technology is a wonderful thing isn't it?! She's 5000 miles from home and it was lovely to see her.

The Family pet
The cat has been unimpressed since Olivia arrived home from uni. Three year's worth of belongings abandoned on the floor of her summer residence (the conservatory) did not make the family pet at all happy. Each time she contemplated snoozing the afternoon away, she would turn and look as if to say, 'Seriously, what do you expect me to do with all this? I don't recall giving permission for all this stuff to be left in my favourite sleeping place.' On Monday, we made amends and sifted through Olivia's belongings and ended up  either donating, recycling or binning most of it. We were finally forgiven when the cat could see the floor and stretch out again for her many naps during the day, although naturally, she insisted on wrapping her paws around a chair and sleeping in a small corner of the room.

Falling asleep on the sofa
There has been a lot of this during the past week. Consequently I've missed the end of almost everything I've watched on TV and required updating by Mr A. I'm hopeful that the holiday will offer a much-needed reprieve after several crazy weeks involving long hours and moving the girls back home after their time away at university.

While I'm away...
If there's Wi-Fi I'll be around, tweeting and posting holiday photos and if not, then I'm going to miss you and promise to catch up just as soon as I'm back. I have scheduled some recent and not so recent posts for while I'm away and there's lots to look forward to on the blog, including a giveaway and a couple of book reviews once I'm home.

Wishing you all a fabulous week ahead.

Love and best wishes


Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton

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