Burnley Literary Festival


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I just found out last night that Burnley is holding a Literary Festival from Saturday 29th October to Monday 7th November. I am so excited that my home town is dedicating a week to books and poetry, and literary arts!

You can find a full program of events here. But here are the bits that I want to check out:

Pop-up Reading Lounge – This will be open throughout the festival in the Charter Walk Shopping Centre and will be a place to relax and read a book and where there will be readings, recitals and performances throughout the week.

Burnley Book Exchange – Also in the shopping centre there will be benches full of books that you can swap with your own favourites!

Writing a Thriller with Liz Flanagan & Tara Guha – Two novelists and friends from either side of the Pennines in fascinating conversation about writing a thriller and the current popularity of psychological thrillers. In the Central Methodist Church, Thursday 3rd November, 6-7pm.

Roald Dahl Day  -Friday 4th November Burnley town centre will be alive with Roald Dahl celebrations. From street performers and pop-up storytelling carousel, to Dahlicious family photos, a reading group and a Charlie & the chocolate factory afternoon tea party

Those are the things I am hoping to get to but I have spent a good half hour reading the program of events and there is absolutely loads going on! There are workshops on creative writing, crafting, comic book writing and illustration. There are talks from authors and poets, and open mic nights for people to share their work. And there are performances too from local theatre groups and UCLAN students.

I would really recommend having a look at their website and booking on to a session or two, especially if you are going to have bored kids with you over half term. I am so proud of my home town for putting on something as ambitious as this and I really hope it is a great success for them and for everyone involved. I am certainly planning on getting to as much as I can!



Who needs Spas when you have Mums?


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Bit of a different post today. I just want to write down something lovely my Mum did for me last week. I am so grateful for the little things she does for me and it strikes me that I often use blogging to record the nice things in life; meals out, pretty clothes…etc. But the things I am most thankful for are just the simple moments with the people I love, and I should make more effort to record and remember them…

Like this one….

It was my birthday last week. I was spoiled with gifts and thoughtful cards but I hadn’t really planned any Birthday activities or celebrations. Our next few weekends are already booked up with things and I am OK with having a low key birthday, especially as I am thinking I might have a big do next year for the big 3-0!

On the morning of my Birthday I awoke to kisses from Orla and a pile of presents from Rob! Then after Rob had gone to work, Orla and I went to see my Mum.

I got talking to Mum about how worn out I was feeling. Orla is still a terrible sleeper and some weeks it really takes it toll. I said how, for the first time in my life, a spa day actually sounded appealing. The idea of going somewhere quiet for a couple of hours just to relax suddenly seems exciting. But it is expensive! Especially when you have to pay for the whole day when I know that I would only want a couple of hours.

My Mum said something along the lines of; ‘well why don’t you try having bubble baths at home with candles and books?’ She knows me well!

‘I don’t have time!’ I moaned, ‘By the time Rob is home and we have had tea, there is only half an hour before we have to do bedtime, and then once she is asleep I don’t dare run a bath in case it wakes her up…and…’

Then Mum interrupted me and said, ‘why don’t you have one now? There is plenty of hot water, I have bubble bath and a stack of books from the library.’

And that is how I ended up having what felt like the most luxurious bath at 11am on a Thursday morning for my Birthday. It was heavenly! Mum looked after Orla, who was thrilled to have play time with Grandma and I enjoyed an hour long soak!

I know it was only a little indulgence in the grand scheme of potential Birthday treats but it was exactly what I needed; an hour’s brake from Mummy-responsibility, a chance to rest all my muscles and to let my mind go on holiday with a good book!

I then felt refreshed and energized to take on the rest of the day, and I am so grateful for my Mum for just providing what I needed when I needed it most! She is the best, and my role model in how to be kind to people.

Thanks Mum!


Autumn Lanterns


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Short blog post today. We have a Horse Chestnut Tree right next to our garden that is covering the grass with a ridiculous amount of conkers. Which is a dream come true! Our own personal supply of conkers!

Except we have so many and are too big to be having conker fights in the playground, that I’ve not been sure what to do with them. For a couple of weeks I had a jar full of them sitting on the dinning room table.


Then this week inspiration struck and I decided to spruce up a couple of candle lanterns with an Autumn theme, like so;



So pretty!

The lanterns were £12 each from Wilkinsons last year. I absolutely love the home section of Wilkinsons. There are so many lovely things! Then I filled them with conkers and added a sprig of berries from our dogrose bush. It’s really simple but it has brought a touch of the autumnal feel in the garden into the house, and I love it!

Her Ladyship’s Notebook: Noisy Fashion


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Today’s quotation leapt out at me the other day when I was reading The One Hundred by Nina Garcia:

Now, I own a fair few bangles but I hardly ever wear them now due to the impracticality of them. They do make a lot of noise and they make typing difficult, and I can never get a coat on gracefully over them!

But this line had me thinking that maybe I should embrace the noisy impractical things anyway. I like the idea that the clatter of bangles as a loud announcement of your stylish arrival!

Since becoming a mum I have been very practical about what I wear. All my jewellery is sitting unused in a box, my heels are under the bed collecting dust, all my pretty dresses are hanging pristine in the wardrobe whilst I wear breastfeeding-friendly jumpers and jeans.

I am itching to indulge again in impractical fashion, and I think an arm full of clashing clattering bangles might just be the place to start….

Memory Verse: Deeper Waters


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Jesus said:


This verse seems well timed for me this week. Last night I hosted a Bible Q&A evening at my church and it was really fun. We had a small panel and looked at half a dozen questions submitted from our church congregation. The questions included ones like:

  • Who decided which books to include in the Bible?
  • How do you know they tell the truth?
  • Free will or predestination? Help!
  • Why does God seem to do so much killing in the Old Testament?
  • Isn’t the Bible just filled with rules and regulations? Why can’t you have fun?
  • Prove to me that God exists.

It was fantastic to explore these questions but I felt like I could spend hours talking about each one of them, it was so hard to keep the night moving and not dwell too long on one topic.

So it feels special today to come to this verse and be reminded that the whole of Scripture still has it’s purpose and place in our lives, even if, as I looked at last week, we are not under an obligation to obey the law. My head is still buzzing today with thoughts and ideas and I am aware all over again at just how rich, deep and mysterious the Word of God. It is like an Ocean with more life hidden away they deeper you search.



Cathy’s Kitchen: Messy Vickys



OK, so today’s bake was meant to be these adorable and pristine mini Victoria Spunge cakes:



But I had a few issues when making them so instead I am calling them Messy Vickys; they are like the sticky toddler version of the grown up cake.

My first issue was that the cakes didn’t rise. I don’t know if you can make out the recipe on the above photo but the instructions were to include 1 egg and 1 egg yolk. Full credit to my Mum who pointed out as I was baking that 2 eggs would get a better rise, but I decided to follow the recipe exactly and threw out the spare egg white. Foolish mistake!



Look at my flat little sponges. This recipe was meant to make twelve mini cakes but I could see at this point that there was no way I could half these sponges, so instead I made six, and used the sponges as halves.


So I persevered and whipped up the double cream…and then over-whipped it turning it into clotted cream and then diluted it with milk to get it back to the desired soft peak stage. This got the texture right but I am not sure if it watered down the taste a bit too!

I assembled the cakes as above and then topped with icing.


OK, now this is where I realised that I need to be neater in my icing but the bake was taking longer than anticipated and I was in a rush to get finished!

It had been a stressy bake so far but then the next step made it all worth it. The recipe called for me to sieve two tablespoons of jam, put it in a icing bag and then put three jam dots on the top of each cake, and then run a cocktail stick through it. It sounded really fiddly but I thought I might as well give it a go.

So I did….and it was brilliant!


The dots turned into pretty hearts! I was so pleased! It was worth doing the whole bake just to learn that trick!

dsc_1297.jpgTo be fair the hearts soon slid off due to my messy icing but still! Here is the finished product, nowhere near as ordered and beautiful as the picture, but still appealing in what the Bake Off would call ‘informal’ way!


Helen Russell Creations



One of my favourite weekend activities is to hit up on local craft and art fairs. Rob and I have been visiting these fairly frequently for the last couple of years. In fact, we have been to enough now to recognise and build a friendship with some of the artists.

One lady, has become a particular inspiration for me. We met Helen Russel a couple of years ago and instantly loved her cute ceramics populated with cheeky cartoon birds and critters. I especially love her Batman and Robin series and the Puffin who thinks he is Fred Astaire. All the characters she draws have back stories and worlds that they inhabit, each one is bursting with personality and life and is a reflection of the artist herself.

Seeing Helen once every six-to ten months or so, it has been incredible to see the steps she has been taking to build up her business. One time we chatted to her just as she was making the leap from working from home to renting her own studio space. Then we saw her at the beginning of the month at the Art in the Pen event at Skipton to discover she has introduced a whole new line of stationary items to her collection.

When I talk to Helen I am amazed at her bravery; how she keeps on trying new things and how hard she works. Although I have no desire to become an artist myself she inspires me to keep on working hard at the things I love to do, and to be willing to take risks. And even as she takes these big steps she always has a great joy and cheerfulness about her that saturates her creations.

I know this all sounds very gushy, but I really do admire her work and her approach to making her own business. I promise I am not being sponosored for this post, and apart from seeing her at art events I don’t have any other friendship with her. She is just someone who I admire and I thought it would be nice to share a bit about her and her work.

If you would like to see more of what she does you can check out her website here.


Memory Verse: Interpretations of Change


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I have missed a couple weeks of my Memory Verse challenge with being on holiday so I am feeling a bit rusty as I come back to it today. In fact I was half tempted to stop this series. I began it as Orla was keeping me so busy that I struggled to get to my Bible at all during the day so I swapped from reading four chapters a day to having a memory verse to learn a week.

Now that Orla is napping more consistently I am back to reading my chapters daily. And I am very grateful for that! Reading the Bible is for me the primary (but not only) way that I experience God’s presence, and I miss it when I go without it.

But learning and focussing on a single verse for a week has also been beneficial. It makes me think about some of the more challenging things Jesus said where otherwise I would be tempted to gloss over it. So I have decided to continue my series, and this week’s verse is Matthew 5:17 which says…

mt05_17These words are important as they show the huge change and connection between the Old and New Testament. I think this is something a lot of people struggle to get their heads round as Christianity sprung up from the Jewish faith and Christians still hold the Old Testament to be the Word of God but are not under obligation to obey the Old Testament Law.

The reason for that is that we view the Old Testament Law as a covenant between God and the Israel nation. The people would worship God and obey the Law given by Moses in return for God’s blessings. God would then make His name known through the Israel nation and would use them to bless all other nations.

That covenant was fulfilled and completed in the sacrifice and Resurrection of Jesus, and a new form of the Covenant was introduced that would not only be for Jews but for everyone who would put their faith in Jesus.

The differences between the Old Covenant and the New way are…


Old Way New Way
Contained by the Israelite nation For all peoples of every nation
Only the special related to the Holy Spirit All believers can receive the Holy Spirit
Practiced by law Practiced by faith
Had priests to mediate between man and God Has Jesus to mediate between man and God
Concerned the earthly life of Jewish people. (interesting to note: there are no promises that eternal life would be given to the Jews if they followed the Jewish law. The people’s hope of an eternity with God was always in the Messiah) Promises eternal life for all believers

So even though Christians don’t have to obey the Mosaic Law it is still really important to us as Jesus came to fulfill the Law on behalf of all people and bring in a new way of grace.

Obviously, this is a massive subject that I could go on and on about but that feels like enough to keep me going this week! I am looking forward to continuing on my Memory Verse challenge!

Currently… September 2016


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Rob, Orla and I are just wrapping up our ‘big holiday’ of the year. Rob had two weeks off from work and, for a change, managed to pick the hottest and sunniest weeks of the year!

We did a UK based holiday this year. We set off on Saturday and spent the weekend with friends in Cambridge, before going on to a rented house on the seafront at Clacton-on-Sea. We stayed there a week and were joined on Thursday by Rob’s Mum and one of his Aunts. Then all five of us went to stay at another one of Rob’s Aunts house for the weekend as Rob’s Uncle was having a big 60th Birthday Party. He’d hired a local pub and pulled in many musician friends to play live music all day. It was excellent!

We then had another, slightly calmer, week back at home together. It’s been great having Rob around full time and it’s going to be a bit of a shock to the system when he goes back to work on Monday!

Anyway, here is a flavour of my September, currently I am….

img_20160922_174926.jpgEnforcing chill out time. Each month looking after Orla is getting a little bit easier but I still sometimes feel frustrated with how little I get done in the day. The temptation is to then plow through jobs when she does go to sleep at 8pm, but if I do that I get totally frazzled and exhausted. I have come to realise that once it gets to 8pm, I need to relax and do things that I enjoy and get me ready to sleep. So I am limiting my evening activities to watching TV, painting my nails, reading a book or colouring in my Enchanted Forest colouring book!

Watching Friends! Suddenly the Comedy Central channels have appeared on our TV and they show Friends episodes almost continously. It’s been a few years since I actually watched any episodes so it has been great to dive back in, especially as all Orla wants to do is walk around the coffee table for hours on end. It is a life saver having something entertaining going on for me!


Itching to wear my new boots. On the way down to Cambridge we stopped at a Boundary Mill Store in Grantham. I got separated from Rob and Orla for a few minutes and on my way to find them I spotted these beautiful navy Rieker ankle boots! By the time I caught up to my family there was a big shopping bag swinging at my elbow! I adore these boots, they fit perfectly, they look gorgeous and they scream out ‘autumn is here!’. Except it’s been boiling and sunny ever since I got them! I need the weather to cool down before I can show them off.

Reading ‘Surprised by Hope’. A Christian book leant to me by a friend who does Bible translations. It is about how the central hope of the Christian faith isn’t to go to heaven when we die but that one day the creator God will renew His entire creation. Believers will have resurrected bodies (like Jesus) and the world will be renewed. It is really fascinating! But I have found if I read it too close to bed time that it gets my brain thinking too much and then I can’t sleep!

dsc_1169.jpgAdmiring the pastel rainbows of beach huts. Is there anything that sums up modest British charm than a row of pristine beach huts! I loved walking along the beach at Clacton and taking in the views. Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside….

Eating too much ice cream for my own good. Enough said.



Continuing with my Bible Journalling. This is a sneak peak on the piece I am working on right now. The monthly challenge I have from my Bible Journalling group is to make a ‘shaker‘ based on a favourite  worship song. I have an idea of how it will look in the end but I am a bit cautious to start the next step as it involves glitter!

Book Bag: Rural Readings!


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The last two books I have read have both had very rural settings, its made me feel very grateful for my little home town surrounded by fields, woods, rivers and meadows!

Off to the Lakes by Jessica Lofthouse

My Dad loaned me this book that used to belong to his Mum, who sadly passed away when my Dad was only ten, so this was a very precious read. Off to the Lakes was published in 1949 and is a beautiful description of walks, hikes and ambles taken by Jessica and her friends all around the lake district.

The book follows the course of a year and my Dad recommends reading whatever walks correspond to the current season for the full immersive effect!

The writing is spectacular and poetic. Jessica Lofthouse clearly has a deep passion for the English countryside and she launches into magnificent descriptions of her surroundings at every point. Here is one example:

“The vale of Lorton is illuminated, the tree-tops gilded and every feature on the now familiar landscape transfigured. We come to the old Butteremere coach road, to the low intakes, the old stone farms with the last birds calling from orchard boughs. We pause to chat with farmers at leisure and cottage women standing by open doors, and the light fades. At last the mountains become black cut-outs, the stars come out and predatory owls pass over as we open the farm gate.”

There! Isn’t that marvelous! The whole book has that passion and breathless wonder of the world. It makes you want to put the book down and go outside and keep reading all at the same time. I highly recommend reading it with Google Maps open as well, so that you can look at the landmarks and follow the course of Jessica’s hikes!

As many of the walks took place in the 1940s there are some interesting references to the Second World War. It is a fascinating glimpse into history through the life of one remarkable woman!

The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown

Heartbroken after being jilted at the altar, Sybil has been saved from despair by her knitting obsession and now her home is filled to bursting with tea cosies, bobble hats, and jumpers. But, after discovering that she may have perpetrated the cock-up of the century at work, Sybil decides to make a hasty exit and, just weeks before Christmas, runs away to the picturesque village of Tindledale.

There, Sybil discovers Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, an emporium dedicated to the world of knitting and needle craft. But Hettie, the outspoken octogenarian owner, is struggling and now the shop is due for closure. And when Hettie decides that Sybil’s wonderfully wacky Christmas jumpers are just the thing to add a bit of excitement to her window display, something miraculous starts to happen…

I am such a shameless sucker for these kind of cosy books that I end up reading Christmas books whilst off on my Summer Holidays! These types of books are my guilty pleasure – where there is a tight-knit (get it?!) community that is good to one another, a make over, lots of yummy food and a happy ending!

The Christmas Knit-Off is a great book to nestle down with this winter but be warned it will make you hungry. Nearly every other page is Sybil wolfing down a piece of cake or full English breakfast, or a roast dinner, or mulled wine and mince pie! In fact I will probably read this again for the food descriptions alone! Plus it got me ready to don the knitware….just as soon as this Indian Summer is over!

My Reading List:

 img_20160923_160651.jpgHere is how my pile of books to read is looking like at the moment: