Exciting news about the Sisters of Sin and Christmas telly

Good morning from dreich and overcast Scotland. And no the pictures used in this post are not recent ones taken from the lovely scenery around about me. Unfortunately, we’ve not had any snow yet. 🙁  I love the snow. However, we’ve had a bit of rain and there was a smattering of snow on the hills overlooking Port Glasgow. Anyway, to assuage my desire for snow I’ve decided to enhance this post with pictures of it that were taken in Scotland.

Firstly, the exciting news. The Sisters of Sin books are in production and the first one is due out at the beginning of June. Woohooooo!!! I know I’ve been talking about this for two years now, but we’re ready to go. We have a core group and we’ve recently invited two guest authors to join us. I cannot wait to get this series out. Watch this space for more details!

So, how was your Christmas? Hope you had a good one. As the rest of my family were away doing other things, it was just me and my two kids, three dogs and four chickens for Christmas this year.  I spent the day watching crappy movies on telly, flicking through the numerous books I got and eating chocolate and we had stuffed chicken and veg for dinner. I much prefer chicken to turkey which is why we had that. Turkey is okay, but I much prefer the taste and texture of chicken. We had chocolate log for afters. Was a nice, quiet kind of day. On Boxing Day we just had buffet type nibbles for dinner. Easy peasy.

I’ve just realised I haven’t posted anything for quite some time and, to be honest, the reason for that is partially because I have nothing to tell you. I’ve been working and because of Covid I had to cancel several nights out I had planned. This included an ABBA tribute act, a lunch with my besties and a night out at the Barrowlands to see Goodbye Mr Mackenzie on their 30th anniversary tour.  I was not happy, I can tell you. However, I felt in the circumstances (ie the Omicron variant is running rife in Scotland) it was the best thing to do. It’s meant we couldn’t enjoy our Christmas break as much as we’d like. I had also planned to take the kids out to dinner in Glasgow. We love going to see the Christmas lights and then getting something to eat.  Sigh. Never mind. Surely this bloody pandemic will be over soon!! They say the Omicron variant isn’t as dangerous, but what it is doing is forcing people in key jobs to take ten days off work which in turn is putting pressure on the health service, police, supermarkets, their supply chains and public transport. We were already seeing the effects of the variant on public transport before Christmas. Anyway, all these events I had to cancel will be rearranged…that’s a promise!

On to books. I’ve been reading Ali Smith’s Hotel World (superb book) and Edmund Blunden’s Undertones of War (also excellent) as part of my OU course. I’d never normally read either, but this course has opened up a whole new avenue of writing for me. Ali Smith is a brilliant writer and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Hotel World. Blunden’s Undertones of War is also good, but, and maybe it’s just me being tired when I read it in bed at night, I’m having to reread the odd passage or paragraph to ensure I get the full meaning of what he’s saying.  The first read often leads me to go: what? What’s he saying here and who’s he talking about? So, I have to reread it and sometimes I get the meaning and other times I don’t so I read on. I think it might be the language and the text tends to jump about from scene to scene to scene. Anyway, I’m still enjoying it. I’d better get it finished because I’m supposed to have done that by now!

What else has been happening? Have you been watching A Very British Scandal? Watched the first one last night and was hooked.  The Duke of Argyll’s behaviour towards Margaret is really nasty, but then she’s not really a nice character either.  It’s highly addictive watching. Going to watch the next one today.

We’ve been watching all the Harry Potter films and are now halfway through the first Deathly Hallows. Such great books and really enjoyable films. My daughter is a huge fan, so talks all the way through which is annoying. However, I’m still enjoying it. As a Terry Pratchett fan, of course, I watched the Hogfather. Love that version. Mark Warren as Mr Teatime is superbly creepy.  I’ve also recorded a few Christmas films to watch, including Elf and Scrooge (the musical), although I am hankering for a bit of Muppets Christmas Carol so may dig that out the Christmas DVDs box this afternoon.

Right, I must love you and leave you. I have a couple of thousand words to write for my second book in the Sisters of Sin series, my first one having been completed already, and I have to catch up on my uni coursework which has been sadly neglected recently.

Until next time!

Dawn xxx

Dogs, Chickens and 1920s Actresses

So, it’s been a couple of months since I last wrote a blog and that’s because November and December were pretty busy what with various birthdays and Christmas to organise. Not that we saw anyone over Christmas – my entire family stayed at home in their separate houses. We saw each other on Christmas Day via Zoom, but apart from that we didn’t get together.  I also had a lot of work on before Christmas and had a chicken pen to erect which took a lot longer than I imagined (more on that soon).

Anyway, sorry for not being around. It’s been a weird time recently what with the pandemic, Brexit and what’s been going on in America with people storming the Capitol building.  But, I’m not going to talk about either because they are just too depressing, so I’m going to start this blog off with something funny. Here’s some great animal videos I got on YouTube:

So, how are you all? Hope you’re well. Hmmm let’s see what’s been happening? Well, due to the pandemic I have not been going out. We’re now in total lockdown in Scotland, which means we can only go out for vital things (such as food and exercise).  Even before this lockdown, I was pretty much staying close to home anyway. I have been taking the dogs out for walks though and it’s been lovely to speak to other dog walkers (socially distanced of course) along the way. The dogs have been a Godsend in this pandemic. They are just so full of joi de vivre and ours are such cuddly, loving wee munchkins that they’ve made being stuck inside more bearable.

Red chicken

 

I do still have the aforementioned chickens who have not laid an egg since October (gurn – I miss their eggs, they were gorgeous), so are not pulling their weight!! Ha hahaha. I’ve bought them a bigger, walk-in pen for two reasons: firstly, I had to get them under cover as there’s Bird Flu about and it’s the law that your domestic fowl have to be kept away from wild birds.  They are not enjoying being incarcerated, but there’s nothing I can do about that. They’re original pen was too small, so I bought and constructed a new one. It’s much better, they have far more room.

Secondly, I was thinking about doing it anyway. They had been free range, but they cause chaos in the garden. I can’t plant anything as they eat anything that resembles tasty greens and they make a mess. So, into the pen they went and that’s where they’ll stay.

For the first time, I created and sold a calendar on Etsy. My Amazing Actresses of the 1920s and 1930s was packed full of beautiful black and white images of famous actresses of the time. And they are selling quickly. More coming soon. If you are looking for a calendar and fancy this one, buy it here: Amazing Actresses of the 1920s and 1920s Calendar 2021 | Etsy     

I’m definitely going to do them again for the end of this year along with some other ones. Watch this space for more details!

What else have I been doing? Been back knitting for my Etsy shop. This time it’s vintage tea cosies. Will get those up for sale soon.

Books

Books I have been reading include Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Lady Anne Glenconner. It wasn’t as good as I had hoped. Although, in saying that I don’t know what I expected it to be like. It was nicely written and a great account of Anne Glenconner’s life as Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret, the wife of Colin Glenconner and as a mother of five. She had a lot of good times and some tragedy, but this is not the tell all I’d expected. There aren’t any truly juicy stories, which I’m sure she knows a lot of, but was still relatively interesting.

I’ve started back reading the Harry Potter series and here’s why: my interest in rereading them started up again through watching the entire film series with my daughter. We’ve only just today finished watching them. I really like the films, but the books are SOOOOO much better. So, will be starting The Philosopher’s Stone tonight. For films, we’re starting on the Star Wars franchise.

TV

TV over Christmas wasn’t great. There were  A LOT of reruns. However, I did watch a few things that I really enjoyed including the All Creatures Great and Small Christmas special, Bridgerton (wow, the Duke – you know who I mean ladies) and (oh joy!) the second series of A Discovery of Witches (which only came out on Friday and I’ve watched the entire series). I also watched The Alienist on Netflix and it was really good. If you like Victorian crime drama, The Alienist is for you.

Cooking

Other things I have been doing over the festive period include getting back into cooking again. And it’s been quite enjoyable. I lost my love of cooking around the same time as Ian becoming ill and never really regained it. But I started up again over Christmas and I’m enjoying it again, which is great. I’ve made various dishes – most of which my daughter has turned her nose up at – including a very lovely Chicken Korma curry at the request of my son. Weirdly, he did not eat it, but the girl did. So that was a sort of win.

Right, that’s all I’ve got to say today.  Going to feed the dogs and get the dinner on. It’s sausage and mash tonight…or should I make sausage and mash and Yorkshire pudding? Oh yes! The latter sounds great! Til next time.

Dawn xxx

 

 

 

Orlando, the Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios

So, as promised a quick overview of the holiday. Above is me – still peely wally (ie very pale for my non Scottish readers) – at Disney’s Magic Kingdom with Cinderella’s Castle in the background. Yes I am wearing Minnie Mouse ears and a Micky Mouse t-shirt…it’s a prerequisite of going to Disney! There were tonnes of families in matching t-shirts and ears and hats and my family were no different…except my dad who refused point-blank to wear anything like that. So we just called him a ‘bah humbug’!! Hee hee.

Anyway, first impressions of the Magic Kingdom…We took a free shuttle bus from our hotel to the park early in the morning. We arrived at Epcot and took the monorail to a steamboat port and got the boat across the water to the Magic Kingdom. It was a nice way to arrive, but a bit drawn out. Anyway, I was shocked by the amount of security on the doors of the Magic Kingdom…shocked, but not surprised.  Disney, like most other big parks, is a potential target for terrorists, which is horrible. Anyway, we got through the security (it was like being in an airport it was that much) after standing in the first of many queues that day. We walked through the gates and into a lovely faux town with lots of shops selling hugely overpriced food, drink and gifts. Everywhere was the sickly sweet scent of sweets or cakes or something. There was no magic…not for me anyway.

We walked up towards the castle and into the area where the first ride we wanted to go on – Space Mountain was – unfortunately the queues were horrendous. We had bought a day ticket, but you can’t pre-buy day tickets for Disney, websites only allowed you to buy two days or more, so you can’t pre-book fast passes for a day either. We tried to book it on the machines in the park and we got help from a very nice Disney employee who was a whizz on them, but we couldn’t get a fast pass for Space Mountain for that day (the queue was over two hours long). We did, however, manage to get fast passes for the Haunted Mansion, Toy Story and Pirates of the Caribbean and a couple of other rides, so we took those. We also went on the train that goes around the park a couple of times.

I’d like to say I had a fantastic time at Disney, but after a whole day (and around nine miles of walking according to my Fitbit) traipsing around the park I came away with a kind of ‘meh’ kind of feeling. I was quite disappointed in it. I felt the rides we did get on were quite old-fashioned, there was nothing fantastic about them. Also, you had to wait ages to get your picture taken with a character. I didn’t come away feeling like I’d had an amazing day. I just felt I’d paid an awful lot of money for a non-descript kind of day.

Above the view from the train in the Magic Kingdom. Verdict on Disney’s Magic Kingdom – meh.

Now Universal Studios is so much better.

We did Universal Studios the following day and it was fantastic. As a huge Harry Potter fan I, of course, was desperate to do the Harry Potter bits of the parks. We bought tickets for the two Universal Studios parks (as well as the fast passes, although we still had to queue, but not as long as folk who didnt have the passes) just so we could really enjoy both Harry Potter sites and the train between the two, but we got so much more as well. The first bit we headed for was Hogsmeade (pictured above and below).

It was amazing. The place felt so real and the attention to detail was amazing. We went to Ollivanders to buy wands and I picked up a couple of book marks too. This area also houses Hogwarts itself which we also visited. Then we went to the station to get the Hogwart’s Express to Diagon Alley.

The train journey itself is amazing. It has old-fashioned carriages with individual wee rooms. On one side, you can see out the windows and watch the ‘journey’ to ‘London’, but on the other, you are looking at the frosted glass of the doors between the room and the walkway and you can see the shadows of Harry, Ron and Hermione and hear their conversation. The journey doesn’t last long and takes you to ‘King’s Cross Station’.’s

Diagon Alley was nearby, as was the Night Bus (see below).

Diagon Alley was packed and we didn’t do the ride at Gringott’s (although apparently it’s good, but I don’t like rollercoasters so I didn’t want to do it).

Once we’d had our fill of Harry Potter, we decided to explore the rest of this park. It was fantastic. There are lots of places to see and things to do and it’s here we did the Transformers ride (which is AMAZING – you really feel like you’re in the middle of a battle between the Decepticons and Optimus Prime and his ‘men’, it’s terrifying in places, but such a thrill – you are in a city trying to escape the Decepticons and you get shot at and you tumble off the top of a sky scraper and it’s all so real you squeal all the way through it, but are secretly loving every minute of it), the Despicable Me ride and the Shrek ride. The Despicable Me one was amazing too, although not on a par with Transformers, and the Shrek one was good, but tamer.

We also saw a parade. We missed out on the Disney parade in the afternoon because we were doing the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, so it was nice to catch this one. Here’s Gru et al dancing and singing in the streets…

And a view of this park across the water…

After we’d tired of this park we took the Hogwart’s Express back to the other park and did the Jurassic Park ride and a few others.

Some more views of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade from a bridge that led us to the Jurassic Park ride.

The Jurassic Park ride was really good. It’s a river ride. You get on your ‘boat’ and go into the enclosures, dodging animatronics dinosaurs along the way. It ends with a long tip and splash into the water and is really fun. We followed this by popping into the King Kong ride. None of us were that bothered about doing it – in fact my mum was going to sit out because she couldn’t be bothered waiting in yet another queue – but we were all so glad we did. It’s really REALLY good. Again you are in a ‘car’ driving about Kong’s island dodging dinosaurs and large spiders and other beasts. This is done mostly with SGI and it’s so lifelike. It was exciting and scary and thrilling and, well, if we had the time or energy we would have done the ride again and again and again. It’s great…almost as good as the Transformers ride.

If I remember rightly, King Kong was the last ride we did that day as we had to catch the bus back, but we also squeezed in a few others along the way. We would around 10 miles that day according to Fitbit and we could hardly put one foot in front of the other by the time we were finished, but we all had a really good day.

Verdict on Universal Studios: loved it, would definitely go back. It’s fantastic. Recommend it.

Oh nearly forgot, my thoughts on Orlando. It’s immaculate and very modern, but I felt it was soulless. There is no culture to the place. It’s pretty enough, but I prefer old cities and towns with hundreds of years of history and buildings to match. We stayed at the Days Inn Hotel, which when we first arrived we weren’t that impressed with, but it was immaculate, the rooms were comfortable, the staff were lovely and it had a really nice pool area that the kids loved.

Our last full day in Orlando was taken up by the Universal Studios trip. The following morning we got up early (aching from all the walking we had done over the previous two days, but it was worth it), took a taxi to Port Canaveral and caught our cruise ship, the Norwegian Epic. More about that in the next blog post…I just loved the ship and the places we visited.

Til next time,

Dawn xxx