Monthly Chat: August 2015

What I did

July slid almost unnoticed into August – it was a lot more of the same, and by ‘the same’ I mean painting, flat-pack furniture assembling, and getting weepy over the fact I have no longer have enough room for my vast shoe collection. But finally – FINALLY – I think we’re at a point where paint brushes are going down… at least for a while. They say ‘a house is never finished’ but mine will have to be for a while. I’m sick of having paint in my hair, my cuticles and on one unfortunate incident, my eyes. I’m thinking of doing a mini-blog series where I showcase some of the extremely amateur painting/decorating and interior design… but I may decide that’s a little too self-indulgent (even for me).

We had a brief smattering of summer early in the month (before the thunderstorms, anyway) which coincided with my little sister returning for a second bout of work experience at my office. Unfortunately for her, this second stint primarily (okay, entirely) consisted of filing away stacks of paper, and by the end of day two she’d developed an old-lady-stoop. But don’t worry – she was repaid with a barbecue and Pimms and a lunchtime trip to Primark.

It was finally time for my belated birthday trip away, and my husband whisked me off to a beautiful B&B in Hever. I say ‘whisked’. That’s probably not the correct verb for what turned out to be four hours almost stationary on the M25. But when we got there it was worth it. Despite being an unapologetic Anne Boleyn nut I have never been to her ancestral home (wrong side of the country, hence the 4 hours on the motorway) and I got a little bit overexcited. At one point I almost walked into the moat. I’m not exaggerating, I was less than one pace from an unexpected bath. I also think that the American lady standing behind me in what is traditionally called “Anne Boleyn’s bedroom” must have thought I was having some sort of tantric orgasm (I was just trying to imbibe any remaining Anne-molecules).

It wasn’t all almost killing myself/scaring tourists though. We decided to rent a pedalo and go out on Hever lake while the weather allowed. Here’s my top tip: if you’re petite, don’t ever go for a pedalo, go for the row boat. I had to basically lie flat in the seat to get my feet to reach the pedal; I’m not going to lie, my husband did most of the ‘actually moving the boat’ work, while I sunbathed/daydreamed/made quacking noises at the ducks.

At least there was good news to return to after my weekend away – I passed that exam I’ve been moaning about for months, hooray! And with 88%. The perfectionist in me immediately started howling in rage. I wanted 90-something. I am a complete and utter professional failure. “Shut up,” my best friend said, “if that was a university grade, you’d have a Distinction.” Fair point, well made. I can live with 88%. And speaking of exam results, my little sister picked up her GCSE grades, a fantastic plethora of As with a few Bs thrown in there. I’m a very proud big sister.

Because we clearly hadn’t spent enough time on the motorway for one month, we drove across to Norwich for a housewarming/engagement party. We played Crazy Golf in the blistering heat (which was great fun, although I admit that at one point I thought “surely we’re almost finished?” only to realise we were on Hole 5 of 18). Of high amusement was the pert-bottomed monkey we found on the course (see picture). Later there was Cards Against Humanity and a game of Telestrations that made me laugh until I cried, and I finished off the evening lying on my back on my friend’s astroturf, drinking cider, chatting and looking up at the stars.

Having now watched my husband cut the grass of our brand-new garden, I am appreciating astroturf on a whole new level. It’s a garden you can vacuum. That sounds pretty sweet to me, especially as the lawnmover we have ‘inherited’ trips the whole house’s electricity every two foot of grass or so.

Some of our closest friends (one out of six of our bridesmaids and four out of six groomsmen!) came to spend the rainy bank holiday weekend with us. On the Saturday the weather held just long enough for us to hire some boats (row boats – I retained the lesson from the pedalo earlier in the month). In the evening we went out for Japanese food and teapot cocktails (and shots… many shots) and somehow managed to ‘win’ the drinking game 21s by replacing every single number with a new rule. Needless to say we were the coolest people in the bar. No, really – by the time we left at least two other tables were trying to replicate our 21s success. Sunday was a bit of a wash out, but undeterred in that special British bank holiday fashion we drove to Berkeley Castle regardless, for a little soggy (and partially hungover) sightseeing.

At the moment there are two great competitions running over on Twitter… here’s one where you can win two tickets to my Somewhere Only We Know party in Clapham Common next Friday (the 11th) – complete with access to the after-party! You can also enter to win a signed paperback of your choice of The Best Thing I Never Had or Somewhere Only We Know!

So next month is shaping up to be an exciting one. I’ve got my SOWK party, a wedding to attend, Proms in the Park (one of my favourite events of the year!), a baby shower and another friend due to give birth! It will also be my first wedding anniversary during the first weekend – I can’t believe how quickly those twelve months have gone! I’m also looking forward to getting to break out my autumnal wardrobe again (thick tights and boots, FTW).

What I read

It was finally time for the HarperImpulse Readathon! Loved it! All the books with pink stars were read for the readathon – as you can see, I read a few even after the initial two week period was over!

Point Us To Paris, Aimee Duffy (☆☆☆☆)
The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith (☆☆☆☆) [book club read]
Summer at Castle Stone, Lynn Marie Hulsman (☆☆☆☆☆)
A Kiss In the Dark, Lisa Fox (☆☆☆☆)
Access All Areas, Charlotte Phillips (☆☆☆☆☆)
The Sacrifice, A.J. Nuest (☆☆☆☆)
Anonymous, Dani-Lyn Alexander (☆☆☆)
While I Was Waiting, Georgia Hill (☆☆☆☆☆)
This Is Where It Ends, Marieke Nijkamp (☆☆)
We Are All Made of Molecules, Susin Nielsen (☆☆☆☆)
In a Dark, Dark Wood, Ruth Ware (☆☆☆)
Strawberries at Wimbledon, Nikki Moore (☆☆☆☆☆)
Geeks Go Greek, Aimee Duffy (☆☆☆☆)
Tonight The Streets Are Ours, Leila Sales (☆☆☆☆)
The Songbird’s Overture, Danielle L. Jensen (☆☆)
Stolen Songbird, Danielle L. Jensen (☆☆☆☆)
You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost), Felicia Day (☆☆☆)


What I wrote

  • I was interviewed over at Elle Field’s blog for Writer Wednesday.
  • With A Level results day upon us once again, I shared my rather-tongue-in-cheek but also terribly practical tips for Freshers in You’re Off To University!
  • To celebrate two years since I got “the call” from HarperCollins and , I shared my short story “The Bet“, a spoiler-free “deleted scene” from The Best Thing I Never Had, which 2012-Adam hinted at in Chapter 24…. (“Adam had regaled the horrified plus ones with the story of when Johnny had lost a bet and run naked up and down the length of the high street, covered in brown sauce, enthusiastically slapping his own arse cheeks”).
  • My new writing room is coming along slowly, but surely. The desk is there – now I just need a chair and er, wait, a working computer…. (ack) but then I am sure I am going to make great strides with Book 3!


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