After almost a month without internet, I’m finally back! We’ve sort of settled into our new home (albeit with very little furniture) and I’m slowly getting used to a completely new area.

With life being quite hectic these last few months, I’m really disappointed to say that (in addition to a lack of regular blogging) I have failed on the reading goal over the first half of the year.  My work involves a lot of writing, reading and editing and from February to April I was managing the peak of four or five projects. Then we had our offer accepted on our new house in March so quite a bit of spare time was been spent on that. Life just gets in the way sometimes!

That said, with no TV, only having wifi quite recently and having a longer commute now, I have smashed three books in a month and I’m determined to keep going. So rather than beat myself up about the chance I might fail my target of 18 books this year, I thought you might like to know what I have managed read. It’s holiday season after all and I reckon most of what I’ve read would be ideal for lounging on the beach or poolside!

The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry

Released from the confines of a difficult marriage by the death of her domineering husband, Cora Seaborne moves from the bustling capital to a quiet village by the sea. It’s 1893 and for many years Cora felt the pressure of meeting society’s expectations, when deep down inside she had a thirst for scientific discovery and held no desire for fashion or folly.  Aldwinter provides her with a place to embrace her interests, which collide with the village’s religious inhabitants. The arrival of the Essex Serpent shows the struggle between science, religion and myth of the era. But the story also touches on other issues at that time, like London’s divide between the rich and poor.

What I liked most was the contrast of scenes between the city and the sea, and how this leads to a mixture of characters and the wider context of life at that time. It’s a really easy, enjoyable read. I think you’d like it if you enjoy period dramas or books with a mythical aspect.

The Keeper of Lost Things – Ruth Hogan

Andrew Pearson has spent half his life collecting lost objects after failing to keep his wife’s promise. As he realises he’s running out of time to return hundreds of lost objects, he leaves his house and treasures to his assitant Laura. It is her job to reunite them with their owners. The story is not just about two characters but a handful of owners whose lives ultimately intertwine.

Whilst I thought it was in parts quite cheesy and a bit cliche (the dating scenes are a bit cringy in my opinion), it is overall a lovely story and I liked the clues given through out that lead you to the ending. You’ll like this if you enjoy romances and easy to read stories.

The Book of Lost & Found – Lucy Foley

Following the tragic death of her mother, a famed ballerina, Kate Darling goes on a journey to unravel the hidden secrets of her family’s past. It takes her back to the 1920s, through the wars and up to the present day in the 1980s. It travels between London, Paris, New York and Corsica as Kate deals with her grief and finds out who she is and where she has come from.

I really loved this book. I generally love stories around the 1920s, but it was the visual details of the different cities and the unravelling of secrets that made it capitaviting. You’ll like this if you enjoy books by Kate Morton or Kate Mosse.

Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love as teenagers, however, life in Nigeria pulls them apart. Ifemelu travels to America to escape the military dictatorship of the time in the hope of greater opportunities, but Obinze is denied access and forced into an undocumented life in London. 13 years later they find themselves both back in Nigeria, Obinze a wealthy businessman and Ifemelu a vocal race blogger.

Chimamanda tackles not only issues relating to race in America, but also the struggles of fitting into a culture completely different to your own and how to find your own voice. It’s a very powerful book that puts the reader into the shoes of Ifemelu and Obinze. It’s certainly an eye opener as someone who has never lived in a culture different to my own or been in the minority. Whilst the focus is largely on race, I did think that the themes apply to anyone who has lived as a minority group. I think it’s worth anyone reading this as it’s not only well-written, but it has an interesting story and context. Thanks Jaime for the recommendation!

Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult

Ruth is a dedicated nurse, passionate about bringing new life into the world and caring for mothers. When a baby dies after a routine procedure, there is no doubt who will be blamed – the nurse who was banned from looking after him by his father. The court case takes Ruth, her lawyer and the father on a journey of realisation about the world that surrounds them.

I was drawn to Jodi’s latest novel on the basis of a review that said it was a ‘To Kill a Mockingbird for the 21st century’. A powerful book in it’s day, I was drawn to find out what a modern version might have in store. Whilst I’m not sure Jodi’s book will reach such an iconic status, she does cover an incredibly relevant topic and offers a perspective of racism from three different characters. Like Americanah it’s an eye opener for anyone who hasn’t found themselves in that position. I think what I took away from it was the concept of passive racism. It’s so easy not to see someone else’s experience and carry on life being completely ignorant of it. It definitely offers food for thought.

I think you’d like this book if you’ve read Americanah, you like Jodi’s other books or you’re looking for a really relevant read.

 

If you’ve read any of these books, do share your views in the comments below. I would love to read them! (I’d also love any recommendations of course!)

As we’re now in the swing of the summer and I have a garden (!!!) to read in,  I’m hoping that I’ll do better this next half of the year! Wish me luck! 🙂

Between buying a house and being part of the MAKE FILMS course, I’ve been struggling to keep up with life and blogging of late. I hope you can bear with me until I’m settled in.

On the upside, coming up with a film each week does mean I get to squeeze in something creative and do something fun so I can’t complain.

Here’s my second film, the ever beautiful Columbia Road Flower Market.

MAKE FILMS – 29 May 2017 – Columbia Road Flower Market from Laura Pritchard on Vimeo.

If you’ve not yet been, it’s a must. Get there early (by 9am), grab a coffee and pastry from the Pavillion Bakery and explore every stall.

I thought some of you might like to know what’s involved in the course so I’ve updated my last film post with a bit more detail. For week two, we were given tips on adding music to video and a handful of extra shots to the six we got in week one.

The film prompt was a video portrait or a place I liked. I managed to combine the two here and was very lucky that my friend Germaine was willing to be my subject (wearing a lovely fun dress). I got so many lovely comments on Instagram that I like to think it shows my skills are improving each week.

I’ve added music to films before, but I’ve never filmed a person like this so that was probably the biggest lesson learnt this week. I can see its imperfections but overall I’m really pleased with it. Hope you like it!

I’m really enjoying learning a new skill that complements what I know about photography. And every Tuesday, I genuinely look forward to a new segment of the course being released and then coming up with ideas to film the prompts.

I thought I’d share something a bit different today with a video of scenes from the weekend! It’s pretty much what happens when we have a relaxing weekend in London (with a bit of creative direction! 😉 )

MAKE FILMS – SCENES FROM THE WEEKEND – 20/21 MAY 2017 from Laura Pritchard on Vimeo.

This is the first video from the Make Films course I’m taking part in, which is run by the fabulously creative Xanthe.

I love the films Xanthe shares on Instagram and have long been and admirer of her work. It’s full of colour, creativity and happiness. I tried my hand at a video a while ago (you can see it here) and for a long time have wanted to join the 10 week course she runs. But one way or another either the timing wasn’t right or I didn’t quite have the funds. As luck would have it I won a place through a competition she was running and was totally thrilled.

Each week she shares something new to learn with a film prompt to help put it in practice. So for the next 10 weeks I’m going to pop them up on here. I figure the more I share them, the more confident I’ll get at filming.

The first week was all about getting started with filming with an introduction to filming and editing, plus six starting shots. Then to put it all into practice we had a prompt to put together scenes from the weekend, a 60 second video we can post to Instagram (longer versions also encouraged over on Vimeo)

I took so much away from the first week, here’s a few things I’ve learnt on the Make Films course so far:

  1. There’s a lot more to filming than it seems after just filming on the iPhone until now.
  2. A collection of six starting shots makes an immediate impact to your filming skills.
  3. It’s a really fun challenge switching from photos to filming. You should definitely try it!
  4. I’m much more uncomfortable and awkward in front of a rolling camera. But I figure the more I do it, the less bothered I’ll get?
  5. I have total respect for fashion bloggers. I got James to film a few seconds and I felt so awkward just asking and then filming in public.

Hope you like it and don’t mind something a little different! I’m looking forward to seeing what else I can create to share with you, but there’ll be other posts going on in between.

2016 was one of my best years yet on the reading front. I finally managed to smash my target of 12 books over the year (one book a month) and even read of total of 15 books. I think it was a mixture of determination, a reasonable amount of travel, some great books and discovering new ways to find my next book. I’m hopeful for 2017 and I’m looking forward to seeing what books make the reading list. In the meantime, here are my last books of 2016!

2016-books-chapter-4

His Bloody Project

I spotted this book when scrolling through the shortlist for the Booker Prize 2016. The story involves the recounting of a brutal triple murder in a remote Scottish community in 1869 by a quiet young boy. It’s not the kind of book I’d usually pick up, which is why I chose it. I couldn’t remember having read a book set in Scotland in that era and the psychological aspect intrigued me.

Roderick Macrae is guilty and there’s no doubt about it. Or is there? Between the court room transcripts, medical reports and psychological evaluations, the reader questions what really drove him to do the deed or if he was capable of it at all. It’s a real page turner and I devoured it quite quickly. Whilst obviously gruesome in parts, the interplay of different narratives is very clever.

You’ll like this book if you’re not afraid of a few pages of pillow-hiding content.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

I chose this book from a reading list I found on Pinterest and was largely drawn in by the fact it was described as heart warming.

Shortly after the death of his wife, 69 year old Arthur Pepper finds a charm bracelet that belonged to her, which takes him on an adventure and forces him to change how he sees the world and his relationships with his children.

It is overall a heart warming book, a little bit like ‘Up’ but without the Pixar delights. But it felt a little bit too twee for me. The scenes in London were a bit cliche and there were some details that just weren’t needed.

You’ll like this book if you fancy a nice easy read.

Victoria

I loved the Victoria series on ITV last year, it filled the period drama gap left behind from Downton Abbey so perfectly. It’s a complete dramatisation of Queen Victoria’s early reign but I really liked the characters and of course all of the scenes in London. I decided to download the book by the screen writer Daisy Goodwin because it was only 99p at the time and I was sure to enjoy it.

The book follows pretty much the same plot line, but it excludes the stories of the household and ends at an earlier point than the TV series. I think what I liked about the book version is how much easier it is to picture those places in London as they’re down in writing rather than made in passing reference on screen.

You like this book if you liked the TV series.

The Penguin Lessons

This was possibly my favourite book of 2016. I spotted the cover as someone was reading it on the tube and immediately checked out Goodreads to find out the plot line. I mean – penguins, how could I not.

The Penguin Lessons is about a passion for travel and a penguin named Juan Salvador. Tom Mitchell has a teaching position in a prestigious Argentine boarding school and uses the school holidays to travel. On one such trip he rescues a penguin from an oil slick, although he tries to return him to a safe place Juan won’t leave his side and he decides to smuggle him back to school. It’s such a lovely book, which also might make you want to back up your bags and go travelling to South America.

You like this if you like penguins or travel.

So that’s 2016 books. For more books from the year read chapters one, two and three.

Now for 2017. I’m going to aim for 18 books, 50% more than my last target. I really want to get back into some classics (please so share your favourites!) and continue with some more non-fiction books.

Do you have any book goals for 2017?

As ever, if you have any book recommendations please share them!

I really enjoyed having a wishlist for the year last year, so I’ve decided to do another for 2017! Firstly it’s fun to think of all the things I really want to do. Secondly, although (as last year proved), it often ends up hard to manage it all, it’s the first place I go to when I just can’t think of what to do.

Hopefully, what I’ve shared in this post will give you a little bit of inspiration for your very own wishlist or a place to come back to if you need an idea too.

Here goes…

the-2017-wishlist

Image credits (from top left) – 1/ 2/ 3/ 4/ 5/ 6/ 7/ 8/ 9

1. Take a bike ride through Epping Forest. I still love the idea of the wind rushing through my hair, the light dappling through the trees and pockets of peacefulness you can’t find as easily in the central parks.

2. Visit Ham House and Petersham Nurseries in spring. I visited Petersham Nurseries on a whim the other week and it really is a lovely place to potter around. There was a wedding on at the time so I didn’t stay long but I’d like to go back for tea and a wander.

3. See a lavender field in season. It looks like a photographer’s dream and I bet it smells amazing.

4. Go to Hampton Court when the leaves are green. James and I have had plans to visit for ages, I think it would be perfect those first few exciting weekend when the winter frost has thawed, the sunshine feels warming and the breeze feels refreshing.

5. Explore Walthamstow. It’s one of those areas that seems to be evolving at a rapid pace. I’m thinking a wander around the village, a potter inside the William Morris Gallery, a rummage in God’s own junkyard and either sandwiches at Hillman’s tea room or cocktails at Mother’s Ruin.

6.Visit Wakehurst Gardens. I’m able to visit for free as part of a corporate perk so it makes sense to try to check out Kew’s little sister.

7. Wander around Syon House. Talking of Kew reminded me that I should try to make it over the river from Kew Gardens to explore Syon House.

8. A day trip to Oxford. I’ve been once a very long time ago and my lovely friend Ashley (a former student) tells me I should definitely make a return visit.

9. A weekend in Wales. We used to visit Barmouth and the sand dunes of Dyffryn Ardudwy almost every summer as a child and I loved it. I haven’t been in so long and I keep seeing some great views of the Welsh countryside so I think it’s about time I planned a return trip.

10. A Sunday at Seven Sisters. I’ve seen so many pictures of Eastbourne and Beachy Head on Instagram, but Jessi’s trip last summer definitely inspired me to turn a sight-seeing visit into a long walk along the Seven Sisters. The bracing sea breeze and stunning views would blow any cobwebs away.

Here’s six more I’m carrying forward from 2016:

11. Afternoon Tea, ideally at Sketch. It’s been so long since my last afternoon tea and I still haven’t tried Sketch. Have you had an amazing afternoon tea recently? I’d love any other recommendations.

12. Dishoom for the bacon naan and bottomless chai. I still need to try it!

13. The Rumpus Room at the Mondrian Hotel for cocktails. I’ll need at least one cocktail hour in 2017.

14. Druid Street Market for Saturday lunch. It’s still got to be an ideal weekend activity.

15. Bread Ahead Bakery School for the Introduction to French Baking, Doughnut or Pizza Workshops. I hope I can manage to get tickets for one of these, it would be so fun.

16. An autumn wander at Winkworth Arboretum. I love seeing the season in different places and this will be on my wishlist until I visit.

17. Book tickets for the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House for me and my sister, maybe the Nutcracker at Christmas (seeing as I don’t have a festive one for the list this year!).

With a city break wishlist I’m currently itching to work through, a potential house to buy and only 52 weekends in the year it’s probably definitely impossible to do it all, but as I said before it’ll at least give me some inspiration when I need a break or something to look forward too!

What’s on your wishlist for 2017?

It’s that time of year when everyone looks back at the year that was, the highs and the lows, the happiness and the heart break. I fully believe it’s a good time to congratulate yourself on any achievements (big or small), to try to let go of things that didn’t work out or to leave behind a piece of any sadness.

It’s hard not to start a post on 2016 without referring to the fact that on a world scale the last 12 months haven’t been the best, there have been some horrible tragedies and huge political changes. It’s important to be aware of what’s going on and do what we can for the good and the values we believe in, but we also need to cherish the positivies and be thankful for the things we have.

For me personally, 2016 was quite a good year overall but it zoomed by far too quickly. We had seven weddings, each lovely and special in their own ways, four fun hen dos, a handful of 30ths, a 60th and a 90th. On top of unforgetable trips to Costa Rica and Iceland. Whilst I often craved a bit more time for what I called a ‘normal social life’ and sometimes worried about my finances, I can’t complain and have managed to end up in a better financial position than this time last year.

You might remember I did a 2016 Wishlist, I really enjoyed having a list of fun things I didn’t feel emotionally committed to as it was a useful way to make sure I did some things I really wanted to do without any pressure. I thought it would be fun to see what I managed to squeeze in and what I might need take into 2017.

Starting with what I managed…

Duck and Waffle was surprisingly easy to organise as Lucinda also wanted to go, so we agreed early on to book a table for her birthday. I’d happily go back as it’s a great place to take visitors.

Duck-and-Waffle-2

The Little Taperia made for a pretty great date night. It’s always nice to be able to walk home after dinner.

The-Little-Taperia---Tooting

I was so keen to try Yolkin’s Ice Cream Macarons we ended up eating them in February.

Yolkin---Cookies-and-Cream

Cambridge made for a lovely day out for my birthday. Now that I’ve discovered the city’s charms I’m sure I’ll be back there in 2017, I’d love to see it in spring or autumn. That said, I’m thinking a return to Oxford will be on next year’s list as my last visit was so long ago.

Daytripping-to-Cambridge---punting

I didn’t manage a proper trip to Norfolk as we were only there for a wedding but I did squeeze in a walk near James’ dad’s house. I’ll give myself half marks and hope we’ll manage a proper trip next year.

norfolk-broads

Vanessa and I managed a catch up and a wander around Hampstead Heath just at the beginning of September, whilst this isn’t technically a summer month I reckon I can count it here.

kenwood-house-16

Victoria Park was perfect for a Sunday stroll and a bacon roll in spring.

victoria-park

I got tickets for the TfL hidden tour for Clapham South all the way back in March for the tour in March next year. The tours are so popular (I didn’t manage to get into Aldgate which was my first choice) it’s best to sign up to their newsletter if you want to be in with a chance of tickets.

clapham-south

Last but one on my list was Christmas carols at the Royal Albert Hall. I got the tickets pretty late so I almost didn’t make it and unfortunately a lot of my friends couldn’t go at short notice. But I’m so happy just three of us still decided to go (there’s a few more pictures in my previous post.) I really enjoyed it as a Christmas activity and I’m definitely adding it to the yearly traditions and vowing to be more organised next year.

royal-albert-hall-3

With limited free weekends, there was inevitably a few things on the list I didn’t manage…

  1. Sketch for Afternoon Tea. I just didn’t seem to find the time or the right occasion to justify the treat. Next year I might just have afternoon tea on the list as it has been sooo long since I last enjoyed one, I’ll just have to hope Sketch makes the cut.
  2. Dishoom for the bacon naan and bottomless chai. I can’t believe I still haven’t had the infamous bacon naan. I’m carrying this one forward.
  3. The Rumpus Room at the Mondrian Hotel for cocktails. Another one that will have to go on next year’s list.
  4. Druid Street Market for Saturday lunch. I took James to Maltby Street Market but sadly didn’t make it as far as Druid Street.
  5. Bread Ahead Bakery School for the Introduction to French Baking, Doughnut or Pizza Workshops. I really wanted to do this with James but between his exams and all the weddings it just didn’t work out. I’m still hoping to do this next year.
  6. An autumn wander at Winkworth Arboretum. On the autumn weekend I thought this would work I realised that the route there was actually quite long and involved a 2 mile walk from the station just to the entrance. I wasn’t really in the mood for such a long journey so chose Kew Gardens instead and I was so so happy with my choice. We will hopefully have a car next year which should help tick this off the list.
  7. Book tickets for the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House for me and my sister. I think I need to spend time working out which performance we’d most enjoy and get organised to book reasonably priced tickets before they sell out. I would love any top tips on your experiences of the Royal Opera House.

So overall I managed 8.5 out of 16. I would have liked to have reached 10 out of 16, but with all the events that happened last year I’m impressed I managed what I did.

I’m really looking forward to 2017 as it’s currently looking less chaotic from a social perspective. I’m hoping I’ll be able to focus on what feels like a bit more of a balanced life. So look out for the next wishlist!

You might notice I haven’t looked at the personal goals I added to last year’s post, I think I’m going to come back to these alongside some for the year ahead in a whole other post, once I’ve got my head around it all. (I’m still getting used to the idea of us being on the brink of a whole new 365 days.)

Happy New Year!!! See you in 2017!!