dear beautiful

I know, I know, another selfie style photo for another project hosted by the amazing Dear Beautiful blog and six other lovely bloggers. 

I love the idea of taking a photo of us as a family each month.  I completely understand the mentality behind this linky.  I am always the one taking the photos and am very rarely in them.  I was saddened recently when I was looking through old photographs and I realised that there are hardly any of me and the kids.  Lots of other people with my children, and my Other Half, but not so many of me.  The beauty of this project is that we can get a capture of our whole family, which we are sadly lacking!

I am saving for a new camera but until I get it, you will have to make do with the photos I can grab on my phone.

I originally took a photo of all of us at the start of the month when we first moved to Southport.  We went for some lunch and then wandered down the pier.  As usual when we try to squeeze all four of us into a photograph, someone wasn’t complying although it has to be said, it’s usually Meg who won’t smile but in this case, Eli was practising his pout.

We decided to make it a monthly thing, dinner and a picture at the end of the pier so we will have a photo type diary to look back on at the end of the year.

Don’t worry though, I won’t bore you all with the same posed selfie shot each month.

I am planning to get a teensy bit more creative with these pictures but it’s going to be a learning journey for me.  It’s also getting a little bit sad that Meg knows when I get my phone out that we will inevitably do the family selfie portrait shot and now asks with a resigned tone when it will be!

I also thought I would include this one though, it’s part of the perfect golden hours shoot we managed when we visited the sand dunes at Formby Beach.  Honestly, I was so surprised that the pictures were taken on my phone but I guess it’s all to do with the luck of having the light.

Everything about this picture is infinitely better, for a start we are all smiling!

Next time we will have to try and pose a little bit better, my Other Half lost out in this one being just a tiny head in the background.



I’m cheating a little bit by starting February’s linky whilst it is still January but I’m reasoning that February is a shorter month anyway and the timings of today being the 31st January…yada yada yada.  You get the idea!!

As usual, the idea of the linky is to share recent reviews (adult or children’s books) and to give some comment love to other people who have linked up.  Book reviews tend to get skipped over as they aren’t for everyone and aren’t usually publicised as much but I think it’s always nice to know that someone has taken the time to read what you have written. 

Additionally, you might discover a book you want to read, a new author, or even a new blog!

The linky is open for the entire month so if you are a read-a-holic, you are welcome to come and link up numerous times, or just the once, whatever suits.

Thank you to those who faithfully link up with me each month.  I’m hoping to see the linky grow this year so please spread the word to other bloggers who also write book reviews 🙂

If you want to grab my badge the code is under What I’m Reading over there >>>>>> (and up a bit)

Happy reading everyone!


The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
The trouble with the truth is that it can change everything…

I picked this book as one for the book club I run for Duck Egg, I was going for something which would engage people and really make them think and this fits the bill perfectly.

It’s the type of book which makes you consider what you would do in such a situation and I love stuff like that.  It’s one of the reasons why I’m such a fan of Jodi Picoult (although her current book is making me snoooozzzeeee but that’s another story!) and I often bore my husband to tears asking him incessant questions about what he would do and sharing my thoughts.

The book tells the stories of three women, whose lives all connect in some way.

There is Cecilia, ‘has it all together’ modern mum of three children, wife to a successful husband, big house, well known family with connections…you get the idea.  It is Cecilia whose life will be turned upside down and Liane Moriarty sets it up perfectly, she really has no idea what is coming around the corner.

Rachel is an elderly lady whose daughter was murdered when she was a teenager.  She has spent her life looking for justice for her daughter to the point where it has driven away everyone she knows and she is incredibly angry and lonely.  I thought that Liane Moriarty captured Rachel’s emotions really well.  At times it was frustrating how blinkered she could be in the pursuit of her daughter’s killer but then, who wouldn’t be?  I was really able to empathise with Rachel and how she was feeling, even if sometimes I couldn’t quite understand it.

Tess is married with a son, she has moved away from the area in which Cecilia and Rachel live but is thrown back there when something monumental happens in her marriage.

The issue I had with this book, mainly, is that Tess’s story just didn’t fit.  When we talked about it as a book club, the general consensus was that it was another thread to fill the book out but frankly, it bored me to tears.  Her connection to Cecilia and Rachel, is at best, thin, and her reasons for running off and then going back…the whole thing just frustrated me.  It was drawn out and unrealistic in my opinion.

Apart from that I thought it was a very intriguing premise.  Cecilia finds a letter in the attic, written by her husband to be opened on his death.  Naturally she wants to open it but she manages to hold on until she has spoken to her husband (who is away on business).  His violent reaction to her not opening the letter is what sparks her curiosity and although it takes a while to build up to Cecilia opening the letter, even though you know that eventually she will, what she discovers is HUGE.  Massively life changingly HUGE.

I absolutely cannot tell you what she discovers without ruining the entire plot of the story but it is this thing which drives the whole story, which throws Rachel and Cecilia together, which raises the question, ‘if this were my family, what would I do?’

Cecilia has been happily married for years to her husband, John-Paul, and the letter reveals that she didn’t really know him at all which fascinates me.  I will admit I gave my husband some pretty intense gruelling after reading this ‘just in case’ although he’s useless at keeping secrets so it’s never really going to happen to us!

I suppose I do have another gripe in that the ending tied up a little too nicely for my liking.  It took away the raw edge that I thought the book had by posing such an interesting situation, but it doesn’t really take away from the overall enjoyment factor.

The book is fairly fluid and easy to read so I would definitely recommend it, particularly if you are a fan of Jodi Picoult or similar authors.

If you needed any more convincing, here are some of the comments from the other book clubbers:

‘Once you get past the sudden changes between characters/plotlines, it’s a pretty good read.  the majority of the story lines end up merging quite nicely, although the ending felt a little rushed and flat.’ 

‘It was a slow burner to start with but certainly picked up.  The ending just suddenly happened thought and the loose ends tied up in the epilogue – could have gone further.’

‘I thought it was thought-provoking, sad in places and left you wondering what you would have done.’

‘I enjoyed it and certainly engaged emotionally but wish the ending had been explored a little more.’

‘It was really thought-provoking at times.  I was often asking myself what I would do in the same circumstances.’

‘I enjoyed it mostly but was a little disappointed by the ending.’

I had been meaning to find out where our nearest Stick Man Trail was for quite a while but with the move and just not having any time, the idea had fallen by the wayside.  When I happened to see a link advertising it at Delamere Forest, and realised it was the last weekend it would be there, we just had to go!

We prepared for our Stick Man adventures by reading the story in the morning whilst we ambitiously hoped that the rain would blow over.

Unfortunately it didn’t but we decided to set off anyway.  As we drove the hour’s journey down to Delamere, through torrential rain, my Other Half was becoming less enthused by the second.  He must have mentioned a number of times about cutting our losses and turning round and going home.  I was determined that we would at least give it a go though!

Meg and Eli, as you might expect, were thrilled when we arrived and they spotted their first Stick Man sign.  We picked up the activity sheet from the Cafe and then we set off on the trail.

I really liked how there were different activities placed around the trail, which were designed to encourage little people to learn about the forest.  There were also poems randomly scattered on the trail which were interesting to read.

We enjoyed exploring off the trail a little bit too, finding some shelters which had been built and investigating those.  The kids were fascinated by the fact that the rain wasn’t coming through even though the shelters were just made of sticks.  If we’d had a bit more time, we might have had a go at building our own, maybe next time.

Meg and Eli just love running and exploring and the forest was the perfect place to do that.  Although it was a little bit soggy and muddy and cold they didn’t really notice and I imagine kept warm by racing along the path to find the next sign.

The favourite activity seemed to be building a stick tower, although we should probably have known better than to ask Daddy to get involved.  Engineers should not be allowed to partake in things which are meant to be fun!  It all got very technical and tensions began to run high; especially when Daddy’s tower fell down…he was not pleased!

Unfortunately, Eli has decided to make it his mission wherever we go to wade through every puddle that we come across and the result was about halfway round he decided he was too wet and too cold to walk so my Other Half had to carry him for the rest of the trail.  I think it was all going well until my Other Half slipped and landed in a big puddle of mud!  It was very amusing but I’m very glad it wasn’t me that fell!

I think by the end of it, we were all a little bit cold and wet but it was definitely worth it.  Meg had such a big grin on her face when she realised we’d done the whole trail and although Eli was a little bit miserable, mostly because his feet were like little blocks of ice, it was a really great afternoon out.

And, of course, as is the requirement when you’ve spent the afternoon getting muddy and wet; we all enjoyed some nice hot chocolate in our PJ’s when we got back home, which definitely made it worth it!

The Stick Man trails are being put on by the Forestry Commission and there are several up and down the country still running.  You can find out more here.

I am linking this post up with Coombe Mill’s #CountryKids.


This week’s theme for The Gallery is ‘Rewind’ and I don’t think I could have chosen any other photographs to show you than my favourite of Meg and Eli.  Starting this blog when they were out of the baby phase means that most of my readers probably won’t have seen them as little tiny babies, certainly not Meg anyway!

These are two of my all time favourite pictures.  It took me hours to whittle it down to one each for them, there are really so many that I love.

This one of Meg is in 2011, would you believe the little bald beauty was two and a half years old.  Her face looks a lot older to me, but it’s the lack of hair that gives it away as she didn’t really have any curls to speak of until well after her third birthday.  It was a friend’s wedding and she had ‘borrowed’ one of the bridesmaid bouquets.  We were walking up the reception so this is just a quickly grabbed photograph (hence the legs in the background!)

Eli’s photos were a lot harder to choose from as his are mostly just baby pictures but I think this is one of my favourites of him pre-two years old.  It was taken on his first birthday and I think it’s his eyes that I love the most.  So inquisitive as though he’s really interested on how the camera is working.  Again, it isn’t the clearest photo as I just snapped it whilst he crawled towards me but I think the memory of it is one of the reasons I like it so much.

It’s also one of the few pictures we have where you can really see his sectoral heterochromia if you look closely enough (ooh yes!!) and I like that.  People often comment on his eyes but we never really get to see it as he’s always on the move.  

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery