Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Still Me - JoJo Moyes

Louisa Clark knows too many things.

She knows how many miles lie between her new home in New York and her new boyfriend Sam in London.

She knows her employer is a good man and she knows his wife is keeping a secret from him.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to meet someone who's going to turn her whole life upside down.

Because Josh will remind her so much of a man she used to know that it'll hurt.

Lou won't know what to do next, but she knows that whatever she chooses is going to change everything. 

We first met Louisa Clark with her quirky clothes and close knit family in Me before you a fabulous book by this author that went onto be made into a film of the same name and thankfully for the most part kept to the original story, and if you read the book or saw the film then you'll remember how much you cried. In After You 18 months have past and Louisa is still trying to pick up the pieces of her life and seeking forgiveness from her family.  Louisa still has questions and when a stranger knocks on her door she has to make a decision whether to close the door and continue her simple, safe and ordered life or open it and let the stranger in, who knows  they may hold the answers to her questions but it could also mean she risks everything.  Still Me is the third in the trilogy of books written by JoJo Moyes that follows life's journey of Louisa Clark.  Louisa's life has moved on and we now find her in a new relationship with Sam, a paramedic who she met after having an accident and his ambulance attended the call.  Louisa has landed herself a job in New York for the next 12 months the downside to this being that she will have to leave Sam behind,  so whilst Sam remains in the UK Louisa flies off to the big apple to work for the Gopniks. Leonard Gopnik is a wealthy businessman and well known in New York. Agnes Gopnik is the much younger  second wife of Leonard and not highly regarded by the staff of the household or those within the circles of high society, she can have anything money can buy but still she is not happy.   Louisa is taken on as her assistant and soon finds that Agnes has secrets which Agnes confides and as we all know you can't unknow something one you know it.  This puts our poor Lou in some tricky situations, but as per usual Louisa remains loyal and shows a lot of tenacity whilst staying true to her unique and quirky self.   

There are some of the old characters from the previous books, such as Nathan and the Traynors and of course the Clarks.  There are also some new, Ashok the doorman and his wife Meena, the girls at the Vintage Emporium and the dashing Josh who reminds her so much of Will. Then there is Mrs De Witt the old lady across the hall and of course Dean Martin not forgetting Sam her knight in shining armour who picked her up when she was down.....

Yet again JoJo Moyes has pulled it out the bag with this one.  My colleague at the office said she thought it was so good that she could see this being made into a film as the sequel to Me Before You and I think she is probably right.  I was a little cautious about reading the third book.  The first was so utterly brilliant that I thought it would be a hard act to follow and found the second book a little disappointing in comparison when in reality I think it was setting the scene ready for the third and final story.    If you have not read the previous books I would recommend you do so before embarking on this one as you get so much of the back story.  Still Me won't have you weeping into your hanker-chief but will have you hooked from the very first page.  Its quite sad that this is the last in the series of books.  As one reviewer put it  farewell Louisa it's been a blast and it certainly has.


Saturday, 27 April 2019

Easter Break

Hello all, I do hope you all had a good Easter break. Having made the cake of many guises for D's birthday this must be a record for me having made  it twice within a week, this time topping off with galaxy's golden eggs and malteser bunnies as well as the odd cadbury's finger to celebrate Easter.  I have to say it doesn't matter how many times I make this cake I never get bored of it and it just seems to get better and better, but I am sure I will eventually run out of ideas as to what I can pop on the top and around the sides, but till then I will just stand back in amazement that yes little me made such a thing.  Now I know it is not in the league of many of you and especially those cakes that I see at the Cake International  at the NEC Birmingham but I will bask in my glory for the full 30 seconds of which it lasts and as of yesterday one cake had been completely consumed and there was only one slice left of this one, which I get the feeling may not be there much longer.

I think we can all agree the weather over Easter was glorious albeit a little breezy in places. I can tell you there was no stitching, no knitting and no crochet over the four day break but plenty of general tidying and digging of new beds ready for planting.

With a visit from from our little grandson and his mummy and daddy there was a fare bit of baking for an afternoon tea. . As you may remember he was born at just 26 weeks and weighing less than a bag of sugar and gave all quite a scare.  He is now 8 months old and really coming on a treat and enjoying trying new tastes and textures.

The first quiche of the year was made along with grandmothers tea breadcheese sconesplain scones  and fruit scones. I must admit it did look as though I was feeding the whole village rather than family, so much so that they were packed off home with leftovers.

Having shared my recipes for my cheese scones and plain scones I thought I would complete the set with my fruit scones. As with all scones they are quick and easy to make and taste delicious.

You will need

225g (8oz) plain white flour
4 teaspoons of baking powder
A pinch of salt
55g (2oz) butter
25g (1oz) caster sugar
75g (3oz) sultanas
1 egg beaten
100ml milk

  • Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7. Grease a baking sheet or line with baking parchment. 
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, then add the butter and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the caster sugar and sultanas and mix together. 
  • Add the egg and milk to form a soft dough. 
  • Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead gently, roll out to a thickness of 2cm. 
  • Using a fluted or plain cutter cut out the scones and place on the baking sheet, leaving enough room between each one so that they can rise and expand.
  • Glaze with a little milk and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until risen and golden brown. 
  • Transfer onto a wire rack to cool
  • Serve with clotted cream and jam of your choice sit back and enjoy

and before you know it the weekend is over everyone has returned home and the house is quiet once more. Now the only problem with making the cake of many guises is what to with the leftover chocolate fingers, apparently this should not constitute a problem and I can tell you they disappeared quite swiftly whilst I was enjoying my morning cup of tea and a chapter or two from my book.

Take care one & all



Friday, 19 April 2019

Let me lie - Claire Mackintosh

One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since. 

Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to ask questions about her parents' deaths. But by digging up the past, is she putting her future in danger?

Sometimes it's safer to let things lie. 

It all started as the anniversary of her mother's death approaches when Anna receives an  Anniversary card the message  is cut from cheap paper and glued inside and simply reads....

Suicide? think again

To Anna it is like a sick joke and worse still who would do such a thing. This leads to a series of events that  makes Anna question whether her parents deaths were suicide as reported or whether they had in fact been murdered.  Anna decides to go to the police where she meets Murray a retired detective who now mans the desk as a civilian.  He listens to Anna's tragic story and decides before putting the case to his colleagues to re investigate that he would do a little digging himself first.   Told in three parts the story continues to unfold and there are many twists and turns throughout the story each linked by a common thread 'The Johnsons'. Throughout you get to know more about the lives of  Anna's parents, Anna herself and her extended family and that of Murray the retired policeman, who has his own family issues but,   who has offered to help Anna get to the truth even if it means learning things about her parents that she may not like.  


Let me lie  was one of my March reads and  is the third novel written by Claire Mackintosh and I have to say it did not disappoint.  I am always a little cautious about reading another book from a relatively new author whose work I have loved.  I always think one day they will plateau and become samey.  I loved her first book I let you go it kept me awake many a night as I just couldn't put it down and needed to know what happened next.  I see you was equally as good,  but maybe not quite as good as the first. Let me lie is told for the most part from Anna's perspective and that of Murray but then there is third unidentified character who also tells their own story and it is not until much later in the book that you get to know about them and how they are connected.  If you are looking for a good psychological thriller with lots of elements to the story then I would highly recommend you read this one.  It would be a great holiday read or a long haul flight read as you wouldn't want to put it down. It is both complex and intriguing and will definitely have you gripped as the web of lies and deceit unfold.  

Happy reading one & all



Tuesday, 16 April 2019

A Big Birthday

This weekend the bearded one turned the big 50.  

He was born on a Monday under the sign of Aries and in the year of the Rooster.

Born at a time when the average weekly wage was £32 per week and average price of a house was £4,975.

He shares his birthday with Peter Capaldi of Dr Who fame

It was the year that Lulu represented the UK and won the Eurovision Song Contest in a four-way-tie with France the Netherlands and Spain with the song Boom Bang-a-Bang 

and the year she said I  do to Maurice Gibb

It was also the year that Paul married Linda 

and John married Yoko 

The year we said goodbye  Judy Garland 

The year Marvin Gaye Heard it through the grapevine

 and James Bond was On her majesty's secret service 

so whilst he's not one for a fuss and wanted the whole affair to pass him by as quietly as possible, as the song says What's another year,  but I did feel that a milestone birthday had to be marked even if sedately.

The cake of many guises did make another appearance this time using white and milk chocolate fingers and topped with milkyway magic stars and the little white stars you can buy for decoration in the supermarkets and was the centre piece of afternoon tea.  

and come Sunday morning everything was in place for a delicious birthday breakfast with a glass of non-alcoholic fizz as we were going out later and not sure any of us could cope with alcohol that early on a Sunday morning.  

And by Monday morning we were all back to normal with just the leftovers of a perfect weekend.

Have a lovely Easter break one & all.


Sunday, 7 April 2019

Memories of school

Thank you for all your lovely comments last week.  I didn't particularly like school and don't have too many happy memories of those days. I was bullied a fare bit both in primary and secondary school. Well 4ft nothing, red hair and glasses I was a bit of a sitting duck. Anyway enough of that, the memory the comments did spark was around domestic science or home economics depending which title your school chose to use.

Essentially this lesson was supposed to prepare you for life's rich tapestry teaching you about needlework, knitting in case you ever needed to knit socks and yes this was where I made my first pair, cookery, child care and how to run a home economically, and most importantly how to look after your husband, I think I must have been off sick that day.  Oh how times have changed.

The first thing I can remember making in needlework was a little fold over needle case, I'm sure there are those of you out there that still have one of these tucked away somewhere.  The second thing you made was your apron with your name embroidered onto it.  I still remember mine it was bright yellow check with my name embroidered in red and I can still remember Mrs Gray the teacher telling me that I hadn't inherited my mothers skills with a sewing machine and I have to say she was right about that, however I could knit and crochet albeit basic so I did have an advantage over others there.

Once you had made your apron you moved onto cookery. We had several teachers over the years but Mrs White stands out the most to me, even if your cake was a total disaster she would still find something nice to say about it.  

One thing I was good at making was scones whether they be plain, fruit or cheese and I still make my scones the same way now as I did back then.  Sadly I am not like Mary Berry who still possesses the first set of metal cutters she bought, mine are plastic and the sizes have long since warn off the sides but are about 30 years old and still kept in their little plastic container and all present and correct.

Yesterday the boys were off out for the day and I had the house to myself, just me and the furry paws.  My intention was to spend the day working on D's birthday gift but I got a little side tracked and spent the day baking instead.  Once a week we take it in turns to bring a treat to the office and this coming week it's my turn.  My grandmother's iced tea bread is always a favorite but I thought I would also make some cheese scones. They are very quick and easy and only take about half an hour to prep and cook.

If you fancy having a go you will need

225g/8oz self raising flour
55g/2oz butter
25g/1oz of grated mature cheddar cheese
pinch of salt
150ml of milk

  • Preheat your oven to 220c/gas mark 7, grease your baking tray or like me cheat and line it with non-stick baking paper.
  • Mix together the flour, salt and rub in the butter till it looks like fine breadcrumbs.
  • Add the cheese and stir and then add the milk and pull together until you have a soft dough.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and lightly knead. 
  • Roll out until about 2cm thick. 
  • Dip your cutter into a little flour so that the dough won't stick and cut out your scones and place onto your baking tray. Depending how big you like your scones you should get 6-8 medium sized or 8-10 small.
  • Brush to tops with a little milk and bake in the oven for 12 - 15 minutes until well risen and golden brown.
  • Cool on a wire rack
Once cooled they are lovely with cheese and a little chutney on the top. Now I just have to hope they don't all disappear before tomorrow or I could find myself making another batch for the office.



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