Outfit of the day 16/08/19

It is very wet and gloomy here today – not at all like August – and there is an autumnal feeling in the air. So, a grey, navy and glacier blue outfit felt quite appropriate for the weather.

Yes, I did get to my counselling appointment today and then Lovely Husband and I went to a pub for lunch. We used to go to this particular pub regularly a few years ago, but our visits tailed off when new managers were brought in. We had a really lovely meal today, in contrast with a rather disastrous lunch a fortnight ago, so I am now sitting in bed feeling pretty chuffed!

Anyway, here is today’s outfit:

Outfit of the day 16/08/19 with Hermès’ A L’Ombre des Pivoines scarf

Today’s outfit:

  • Mid grey cotton mix short sleeved top – Lands’ End.
  • Mid grey cotton mix crew neck cardigan – Lands’ End.
  • Navy cotton stretch jeans – Klass.
  • Silver and abalone shell Art Deco earrings.
  • Aqua and grey beaded bracelet.
  • Silk scarf, 90cm, in glacier blue, grey, navy and red – A L’Ombre des Pivoines – Hermès. Tied using a bias fold to show off the grey peony.

I also carried a new accessory which went perfectly with this outfit – even LH noticed! But you will have to wait until Monday when I will reveal all… 😁.

I hope that you all have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes,

🧡❤️💙💛💚💜

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Reading roundup 15/08/19: part two!

As I missed writing last week’s roundup post, I decided to split the fortnight’s reading into two separate posts, yesterday’s and today’s. Here are a few more books…

Zima Blue and Other Stories by Alastair Reynolds

Zima Blue and Other Stories by Alastair Reynolds was a fascinating short story collection. Here is the blurb:

Reynolds’ pursuit of truth is not limited to wide-angle star smashing – not that stars don’t get pulverised when one character is gifted (or cursed) with an awful weapon by the legendary Merlin. Reynolds’ protagonists find themselves in situations of betrayal, whether by a loved one’s accidental death, as in Signal to Noise, or by a trusted wartime authority, in Spirey and the Queen. His fertile imagination can resurrect Elton John on Mars in Understanding Space and Time or make prophets of the human condition out of pool-cleaning robots in the title story.

But overall, the stories in Zima Blue represent a more optimistic take on humanity’s future, a view that says there may be wars, there may be catastrophes and cosmic errors, but something human will still survive.

I found some of the stories a little hard to read, as I have very little scientific knowledge, but the extra effort was worth it. I gave the book four stars and wrote the following review on Goodreads:

A really entertaining selection of short stories by a fantastic author of science fiction. As I am not a scientist, unlike the author, some parts of the stories were a little difficult for me, but I didn’t find that a problem as the overall plot of each one was so interesting and intriguing. These stories really made me think. I now need to find more books by Reynolds in our library catalogue or I may be forced to actually buy them!

The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen

My second book was The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen. I had already read one book by him, a crime novel, but this one was entirely different. This is the blurb:

British pilots James Teasdale and Bryan Young have been chosen to conduct a special photo-reconnaissance mission near Dresden, Germany. Intelligence believes the Nazis are building new factories that could turn the tide of the war. When their plane is shot down, James and Bryan know they will be executed if captured. With an enemy patrol in pursuit, they manage to jump aboard a train reserved for senior SS soldiers wounded on the eastern front.

In a moment of desperation, they throw two patients off the train and take their places, hoping they can escape later. But their act is too convincing and they end up in the Alphabet House, a mental hospital located far behind enemy lines, where German doctors subject their patients to daily rounds of shock treatments and experimental drugs. The pilots’ only hope of survival is to fake insanity until the war ends, but their friendship and courage are put to the ultimate test when James and Bryan realize they aren’t the only ones in the Alphabet House feigning madness.

This book was an interesting, but tough, read as it shone the light on practices during World War II that I knew very little about. It was worth at least three stars. Here is my review:

This is a difficult book to review. I am glad that I read it, but cannot use the word “enjoyed” because of the subject matter. The first half was exciting in parts and also particularly horrific with the account of the hospital and what went on in there. The second half was more of a conventional thriller, but was far too long and extremely violent. I think that it was worth reading, although it could have been better edited.

The Late Show by Michael Connelly

My third book, which I only finished a few minutes ago was The Late Show by Michael Connelly, part 1 in his Renée Ballard series. The blurb follows:

Renée Ballard works the night shift in Hollywood, beginning many investigations but finishing none as each morning she turns her cases over to day shift detectives. A once up-and-coming detective, she’s been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.

But one night she catches two cases she doesn’t want to part with: the brutal beating of a prostitute left for dead in a parking lot and the killing of a young woman in a nightclub shooting. Ballard is determined not to give up at dawn. Against orders and her own partner’s wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night. As the cases entwine they pull her closer to her own demons and the reason she won’t give up her job no matter what the department throws at her.

This the three star review that I have just written:

A solid Connelly book with a new central character, female this time. The plot consists of her working the night shift, as a detective, doing the first part of any investigation but never being able to see it all to the end. She has to deal with the fallout of a nasty event with colleagues in the past as well as the everyday sexism in the police force. Ballard is an interesting character, with an unusual lifestyle. As the book develops, she works through a number of cases from different angles, with one major investigation that involves police corruption.

I enjoyed the book and will continue to read more by the author.

Once I have completed this post I will choose my next book from the pile.

Happy Reading to you all!

Best wishes,

📖📚📖📚📖

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Reading roundup 14/08/19

It is two weeks since I last wrote one of these Reading Roundups and so I think that I will break up the long list of books into two posts, with the second one tomorrow.

Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts

My first book was Nora Roberts’ Of Blood and Bone, #02 in her Chronicles of The One trilogy. This is the blurb:

They look like an everyday family living an ordinary life. But beyond the edges of this peaceful farm, unimaginable forces of light and dark have been unleashed.

Fallon Swift, approaching her thirteenth birthday, barely knows the world that existed before—the city where her parents lived, now in ruins and reclaimed by nature since the Doom sickened and killed billions. Traveling anywhere is a danger, as vicious gangs of Raiders and fanatics called Purity Warriors search for their next victim. Those like Fallon, in possession of gifts, are hunted—and the time is coming when her true nature, her identity as The One, can no longer be hidden.

In a mysterious shelter in the forest, her training is about to begin under the guidance of Mallick, whose skills have been honed over centuries. She will learn the old ways of healing; study and spar; encounter faeries and elves and shifters; and find powers within herself she never imagined. And when the time is right, she will take up the sword, and fight. For until she grows into the woman she was born to be, the world outside will never be whole again.

I read the the first book in the series quite recently and wrote about it on here with a pretty positive review. I gave this book three stars and wrote this review on Goodreads:

I can’t really give this book four stars. Whilst I did enjoy reading it, Nora Roberts’ writing is very readable, and I did like finding out what happened to characters from the first book in the series, Year One, there are a few things that grated. All of this worship and anticipation of “The One”. A teen girl who is the ultimate saviour. The long drawn out training of “The One”. The Ancient British gods and goddesses. I have never liked the idea that humans should wait for a special leader who will take them out of misery, that way lies lots of danger.

I almost certainly will read the final book in the series to see how it all pans out, but won’t feel as if I am missing out if I don’t.

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

My second book was a complete change: Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh, Eddie Flynn #04. First of all the blurb:

THE SERIAL KILLER ISN’T ON TRIAL.

HE’S ON THE JURY…

They were Hollywood’s hottest power couple. They had the world at their feet. Now one of them is dead and Hollywood star Robert Solomon is charged with the brutal murder of his beautiful wife.

This is the celebrity murder trial of the century and the defence want one man on their team: con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn.

All the evidence points to Robert’s guilt, but as the trial begins a series of sinister incidents in the court room start to raise doubts in Eddie’s mind.

What if there’s more than one actor in the courtroom?

What if the killer isn’t on trial? What if the killer is on the jury?

This book definitely deserved at least four stars. Here is my review:

This was an amazing book and I read it in one go (apart from the first few pages). The central idea was very clever and the number of plot twists must be a record! The author also managed to squeeze more cliff hangers into one book than I have ever seen before. It is just about impossible to write much in a review of this book because of possible spoilers.

I am now going to look through our library’s online catalogue, hoping that they have all of Cavanagh’s other books so that I can reserve them all straight away! Highly recommended.

Sorry, no, I could not write a more detailed review as it would be impossible to do so without giving away too much of the plot!

The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

Finally, I will tell you about a third book and save two more for tomorrow’s post: The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly, #05 in his Mickey Haller series. The blurb:

Mickey Haller gets the text, “Call me ASAP – 187,” and the California penal code for murder immediately gets his attention. Murder cases have the highest stakes and the biggest paydays, and they always mean Haller has to be at the top of his game.

When Mickey learns that the victim was his own former client, a prostitute he thought he had rescued and put on the straight and narrow path, he knows he is on the hook for this one. He soon finds out that she was back in LA and back in the life. Far from saving her, Mickey may have been the one who put her in danger.

Haunted by the ghosts of his past, Mickey must work tirelessly and bring all his skill to bear on a case that could mean his ultimate redemption or proof of his ultimate guilt.

And here is my review of the book, which I awarded four stars:

I always enjoy reading Connelly’s books and wish that my local library had more of them. Halley is an interesting main character and the rest of his “crew” are nicely worked around him. The courtroom scenes in this book were really well done, with lots of surprises on all sides. I must read more…

Definitely recommended.

As well as this series, Connelly is also famous for his Bosch books, which have also been made into a great TV series, which I love watching via Amazon Prime.

Tomorrow, I will tell you about the final two books of the fortnight, all being well.

Best wishes,

📖📚📖📚📖

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Outfit of the day 13/08/19

I was well enough to go to the hairdresser’s and the library this morning – hooray! It was so nice to feel strong enough to select and put on a lovely set of clothing and accessories. So uplifting. And, of course, I really like having my hair done properly. The grey and white doesn’t photograph very well as the colours seem to disappear against my skin, but I am still pleased with the result. Here are the before and after photos:

Before and after my hairdresser’s appointment!

My scarf choice was the gorgeous Jaguar Quetzal by Alice Shirley for Hermès. These purple and lilac shades with denim blue, pink and yellow are simply wonderful and work well with my clothes and the Massaccesi Victoria handbag. I also wore my newish Hotter lace up shoes in polar white, which is a kind of pale greyish mauve.

Outfit of the day 13/08/19 with Hermès’ Jaguar Quetzal scarf

Today’s outfit:

  • Violet orchid cotton sleeveless vest – Lands’ End.
  • Frosted lavender cotton-mix crew neck cardigan – Lands’ End.
  • Navy linen-mix trousers – Isle Collection.
  • Crystal and silver stud earrings – John Lewis.
  • New iris leather and pale gold Vara wrap bracelet – Ferragamo. This matches the scarf’s rolled contrast hem.
  • Amethyst pebbled leather Victoria handbag – Massaccesi.
  • Silk scarf, 90cm, in mauve, violet, denim blue and yellow – Jaguar Quetzal – Hermès. Tied in an asymmetric wrap.

I am planning to write an extra long Reading Roundup post tomorrow to make up for missing last week’s.

Best wishes,

💜💜💜💜💜

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Update 12/08/19 with an explanation!

I can finally write about what happened to me last week!

This is a very full and frank account of the events which lead to my neglect of the blog last week. Please feel free to skip over the details!

After uploading last Tuesday’s post, I sat in bed and read for a while, taking my scheduled medication at 10.00 p.m. Just as I had finished doing that, a massive coughing attack hit and I dashed to the loo with my bucket, inhaler and water bottle. The coughing bout lasted around fifteen to twenty minutes, much longer than usual, and it was so fierce that I totally lost control of my body functions. I could feel my chest straining to suck in air and my ribs began to hurt. My temperature rose until I could see that my skin was a deep red. I coughed up phlegm into the bucket and was continually sick. My heart was thumping in my chest. I really thought that I had reached the end of the line.

Elder Son, alerted by my frantic bangs on the bathroom wall (Lovely Husband was playing loud music downstairs and couldn’t hear what was going on), ran into the room and tried his best to help. He was my absolute hero that evening. Usually, after a cough of this magnitude, I recover fairly quickly. I go back to bed and rest until everything has calmed down, then sleep it off. This time, unfortunately, I didn’t really recover. My heart continued to beat very hard and I felt alternately hot, then cold. I was very confused, terrified and panicking.

I am not sure of the timescale now, as I was really “out of it”, LH called an ambulance and, eventually, two paramedics arrived in a car. They were brilliant and really helped to control the situation, doing loads of checks and taking my medical history, but they realised that my heart was showing rather odd readings. To cut a long story a bit shorter, they called for an ambulance, which took a very long time to arrive. They also rang and arranged a bed for me in the hospital where I am usually monitored for my respiratory issues. In other words, I wouldn’t have to go through the A&E system.

Between us, we decided that LH should stay at home to support Elder Son (who has ASD) and so I was taken into hospital, arriving around 04.00. I was lucky enough to be put into a single room with its own toilet. The staff did the usual checks and then hooked me up to a heart monitor for the next few hours. I was still very frightened and now alone, but various people popped their heads through the door from time to time. I didn’t sleep much!

Early in the morning, at around 07.30, I was thoroughly checked over by a junior doctor who filled in what looked like a very detailed document. It was difficult to describe everything properly as I was still quite confused, traumatised and really exhausted. Usually, in similar circumstances, LH does the talking as he has a really detailed knowledge of all my health conditions. Eventually a lovely lady brought me loads of cups of tea and a nice breakfast. I then waited for a few more hours.

After discussing my condition with a consultant, it was finally agreed that I was showing bigeminy, a kind of miss-beat in the normal heart rhythm. He didn’t seem overly concerned and said that it had probably been aggravated by my cough, anxiety and an infection. I was advised that they will investigate further and that I will be contacted with a view to wearing a 48 hour heart monitor. Quite a few years ago, when I was still working, I had something similar, so we will see what results.

After this, I was discharged and LH arrived to take me back home. It took me most of the week to recover, both physically and mentally, back to my “normal” as I was so shaken up. LH and ES were both very upset, as you can imagine, and have had to deal with it all.

So, I wasn’t really up to writing blog posts! I did manage to read quite a lot, once my concentration improved. I am now reasonably OK and hope that further investigations result in reassurance for us all. I have had a few more quite serious coughing attacks in the days since, but none as bad as Tuesday night’s.

Sorry if I worried anyone. I did shout out on Facebook and my friends were very kind and supportive, as they always are. I was very frightened at the time.

I am still very scared, but am trying to blot that out by keeping my mind occupied. There is a hairdresser’s appointment to go to tomorrow, so I will try my best to get there. I also need to return and pick up some library books. Hopefully, I will be able to write a “normal” blog post tomorrow afternoon – I will have to show you my new hairdo, after all!

Very best wishes to you all,

💛💚❤️💜💙🧡

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Update 09/08/19

I have had a very difficult time since my last post on Tuesday evening. As I am still so very tired, I will wait until Monday to write a full post explaining what has been going on. For now, I will just say that we are all a bit unsettled and upset but OK.

I hope that you all have a great weekend.

Best wishes,

🧡❤️💜💙💚💛

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Update 06/08/19 with a confession

Quite a long time ago, March 2018 in fact, I wrote a very difficult post. I will quote some of it now…

I have written many times over the last year about my list of chronic conditions and have detailed what my worst coughing attacks are like. Readers will be aware that I live every day, every hour and every minute, terrified that a severe cough will suddenly grab me by the throat and that I will have to dash to the bathroom with my bottle of water and sick bucket. I then sit on the loo, fighting for each breath, hoping that I will survive. Yes, it all sounds very dramatic and maybe overblown, but this is my life.

This is leading up to something that I am going to admit in public for the first time. In fact, I have only just told my immediate family. I take a range of medicine for all of my conditions, and to counteract the side effects of some of these very medications! For the cough specifically, I take morphine in a very low dose as one of its side effects is that it works as a cough suppressant. This is fairly effective, but I cannot take any extra tablets if I feel a bad cough coming on. To help with this, I also have Codeine Linctus, which is a well known cough medicine, that you can often get over the counter, although I have it on prescription. As I am so scared, virtually all of the time, I have become over-dependent on the codeine linctus. I began to realise that I have been taking far too much of it over quite a long time.

So, I am admitting here that I am trying to cut down on the codeine. It is very difficult for me and I have thought very hard and long about writing this. I feel very ashamed, but want to try to face this and get control again. I hope that, by speaking out, I will be able get a grip on myself and not reach for the medicine bottle when I get nervous.

I really did try to cut down on the Codeine Linctus, but, in the end, was unsuccessful and continued to take too much. I am only supposed to take it “as needed” but, instead, I found myself drinking it straight out of the bottle instead of carefully measuring the doses. I was not taking it when a cough threatened, but using it as a prop. I am very ashamed of myself.

Last week, when Lovely Husband and I were on our own, I finally confessed to him what I was doing. It was very hard because he had been telling me that he thought I was taking too much and at the wrong time, but I had argued with him vociferously, denying it all. I was trying to fool both him and myself. What really made me change was reading about codeine addiction and side effects and coming to the realisation that some of my symptoms might be made worse by the codeine, rather than better. Things like tiredness, feeling spaced out, dizziness, stomach issues, for example.

So, I have started the process of cutting down slowly. I am measuring out the correct doses properly, not cutting down too fast, but making a steady effort to take back control. I will talk about this with my counsellor on Friday. Also, I am making sure that LH is fully aware of what I am doing and I am leaving the bottle in the bathroom, rather than in my bedroom, so that he can see how slowly the bottle is emptying.

Despite my feelings of intense shame, I am also writing about this on here as a way of facing up to what I am doing. I hope that visitors to the blog will understand what is happening and will continue to visit for the more positive posts that I try to write.

That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

💚❤️💜💙🧡💛

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