Sea Swell Shawl

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My last knitting themed blog was quite some time ago – in fact it was the end of April (having glanced through my blog entries very quickly). Whilst that was a long time ago in project terms I have pretty much been working on one item. I say ‘pretty much’ I mean, I did just work on one item with no break in between. That item was my ‘Sea Swell Shawl’, pattern by Stephen West. I had planned to start it, and take a break half way through and make something else, but something over came me and I was like a woman possessed in need of finishing this behemoth of a shawl.

Every year it would seem I need to undertake some sort of big project, and this year it was this for me. Last it was the Find Your Fade shawl, and the year before that it was the big knitted blanket that I made for my niece.

From the moment I saw the promo of it on Facebook I wanted to make it. Stephen West’s own version of the shawl looked like a knitted Starry Night by Van Gogh – I think I was a bit in love with the effect more than anything else as I may have mentioned before I’m just not that into West’s designs. Like the only other one I have remotely liked was the Doodler.

I also knew when checking out the pattern – for some unknown reason – I wanted to make the bigger size. I have plenty of yarn so this really wouldn’t be a problem. I had two colour schemes to choose from – purple or green, so went with purple this time.

Over all it’s a pretty simple pattern to make. Garter stitch all the way through, increasing at the ends and an occasional row of feather and fan stitch. It was pretty simple all the way through to be honest. I did rip out and start again after completing the first wedge or so and that made me a lot happier with how it turned out. Did I want to restart in that manner? No, not really but I needed to otherwise I wouldn’t have been happy with the overall outcome.

I used four unique independent yarns for this, starting with Felt Fusion, merging into Wollmeise (still don’t understand people’s obsession with this yarn, it never lasts for a long as I think it will do) next up was Jellybeans yarn and then finally Green Elephant. The Wollmeise and the Jellybeans melded together really well so I was a bit disappointed that the colour change between them wasn’t very noticeable. I think had I realised that before I made it I would have switched one of them out for a stronger contrasting colour.

Would I make this again? Honest answer is not likely. It was a good knit, but other than the size of it it’s actually nothing special, plus it took me the best part of three months to make – more like two once my holiday to Egypt and the week before and after are cancelled out (prepping holiday and recovering ahah!) Ultimately I sunk a lot of time into the project and I’m not entirely sure that I like it’s outcome.

I am thinking about giving it to a colleague who is leaving in the very near future but the only thing that stops me is me thinking about the cost of the yarns involved. I know that’s a stupid reason bit this project probably cost in excess of £90 to make. I’ve never stopped to think about the cost of my projects that I just give away before, but this one is making me think like that. Perhaps it’s because it’s the most varied one I’ve made with all my Indy yarn. I don’t know, I am more than likely to give it away once it’s been washed but there’s that niggle in the back of my mind this time… perhaps it’s because my finances aren’t where I want them to be so I can’t just go about buy my nice pretty yarn at the moment…. I don’t know. Perhaps that’s a question for another day?

Incidently, the few photo’s I uploaded to my Instagram account of these are my most liked photo’s ever (coming in at 45). It may not be a lot to some people out there, but for me who’s been on there for a good 10 years (I think) and only has 250 odd followers, that’s not bad!

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Children of Ruin (Children of Time #2) – Adrian Tchaikovsky

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When I went on holiday I knew that this was the book that I wanted to take with me. I knew it from the moment I realised that there was a sequel to Children of Time, which was one of my favourite books in recent times. I also knew that the last time I went on holiday I read the entire first Game of Thrones book in a week, so also knew that I would easily be able to nail this one, which I imagine if I was reading at home would take me some few months to complete.

I preordered from Waterstones (love them or hate them, they are my local bookshop and I’ve spent many an hour in there browsing book after book), and I managed to pick it up on the day it was released. I also managed to get a signed copy of the book which was a surprise too! So, without further adieu, here’s the synopsis of my favourite spider/human coalition set some many years into the future:

Synopsis:

Thousands of years ago, Earth’s terraforming program took to the stars. On the world they called Nod, scientists discovered alien life – but it was their mission to overwrite it with the memory of Earth. Then humanity’s great empire fell, and the program’s decisions were lost to time.

Aeons later, humanity and its new spider allies detected fragmentary radio signals between the stars. They dispatched an exploration vessel, hoping to find cousins from old Earth.

But those ancient terraformers woke something on Nod better left undisturbed.

And it’s been waiting for them.

So I think that the first thing I should say is that I wholly didn’t understand all the concepts behind the science in this. There are things carried over from the previous book, like the cold stasis – this time including spider stasis – Avarna Kern, the human turned AI turned computer – the spider/ Portiid social structure, even though it wasn’t as prevalent as before, and the ‘Voyager’ which I totally got a kick out of being as though that is my favourite Trek, but this Voyager was made of spider silk and could change form at the whim of Kern.

We are first of all introduced to a set of humans intent on terraforming a planet some distance away, and before the EMP that wipes out all the humans in the known universe. That EMP is the cause of the events in the first book, and is like year 0. The humans on this terraforming mission are just as flawed as the humans on the other terraforming missions, where we have leaders who regret decisions they make almost instantly, are after self glory and can’t control their deputies. Their deputy an isolationist, for want of a better word, creates his own world and his own mission using…. octopuses. In much the same way Kern wanted to use monkeys to terraform her world, Senkovi (oh god, I think that’s the right name!) creates octopuses from the DNA database and injects them with a virus to make them more sentient and then creates a whole new world in which they will be the creators and janitors. It is thanks to these octopi that a few of these humans survive the EMP blast and creates their timeline.

Nod is the planet that humans have documented with original life. Nowhere else in the galaxy have they come across a planet teaming with life, and it is so vastly different to their own that the team leader expresses his desire to land on it, explore it, document it, and have his glory in a universe with no humans left (as far as they know). But the planet doesn’t want that, the planet fights back, and ultimately Nod should be avoided.

Enter Voyager, who creates a smaller vessel to go and explore these worlds. The octopi have evolved their own space fairing mission, after the long ago death of Senkovi. They express themselves emotionally, visibly, and fall out with each other just as much as they love each other. They are plagued by the virus from the planet Nod, which has wiped out most of their own planet (which Senkovi was planning a Waterworld type planet where people lived on boats), and they are constantly trying to solve the problem or ignore the problem.

Much like the first book the generations are named. We have Paul’s and Simone’s which carry their name down to the next generation much like Portia and Bianca from the Portiid society. They communicate visually with each other using the colour of their skins to express their emotions, their convictions, and this is transposed to their ships too. Giant, spherical ships that communicate whole colours to each other – it was very vivid to imagine this I have to say.

Voyager and her crew are looking for the source of some radio signals that led them to the discovery of these planets that are at war with each other, and even themselves, and we get the delightful mess that is Children of Ruin, and I loved absolutely every minute of it!

Like I say there are definitely things that I didn’t fully understand, like Kern and her evolution. The ship run on ant energy and computing power. The virus and it’s resolution from the planet Nod (I mean I understood the resolution but the epilogue confused me a bit).

Overall I really enjoyed this book, and if you like space opera of sorts then please go pick this book up and give it a go. I already am hoping for a further sequel as the epilogue suggested that there would be. It’s a riot!

My next review will be soonish and that will be for the last book I finished on holiday.

Kialtho

The Last Town – Blake Crouch (Wayward Pines #3)

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This book forms the finale of the Wayward Pines series. It’s been a while since I read the previous 2 books but as I was going on holiday thought it would be a perfect quick read for the airport and the plane. I wasn’t wrong to be fair, I did manage to read it quite quickly but I also had to take some breaks whilst reading it. This is also the first book I borrowed from the Kindle Unlimited store as I won a free subscription to it (thanks MacDonald’s!) and I wanted to see what the fuss was about.

Synopsis:

Welcome to Wayward Pines, the last town.

Secret Service agent Ethan Burke arrived in Wayward Pines, Idaho, three weeks ago. In this town, people are told who to marry, where to live, where to work. Their children are taught that David Pilcher, the town’s creator, is god. No one is allowed to leave; even asking questions can get you killed.

But Ethan has discovered the astonishing secret of what lies beyond the electrified fence that surrounds Wayward Pines and protects it from the terrifying world beyond. It is a secret that has the entire population completely under the control of a madman and his army of followers, a secret that is about to come storming through the fence to wipe out this last, fragile remnant of humanity

So right off the bat we’re thrown back into Wayward Pines “where paradise is home”. There was a fete and two prominent characters from the previous book were about to be killed. Kate and Howard were to be made an example of for breaking the towns rules, but sheriff Burke has other plans. He had told the town the truth about their situation, about living in the last town on earth and what was beyond the walls. The town didn’t like it, and Pilcher, self made god, definitely didn’t like it and threw open the gates and flooded the town with Abbies – aka a gruesome death for all.

The Last Town is the survival flick from that action. We have Ethan, Theresa and Ben trying to survive. Sometimes together, mostly apart. We are thrown in with random town members as they are slaughtered in various different ways. We are introduced in greater detail to the Nomad, who he is but not really his purpose except to make complicated the relationship between Ethan and Theresa. Pilcher’s descent into madness and subsequent ending was just as horrific really as having a fete.

As much as I enjoyed reading about these final hours of Wayward Pines I was a bit put out by a couple of things: there wasn’t an awful lot of characterisation as such in this book. Perhaps it’s because we already had an established set of characters but everyone, including Ethan Burke sort of melded into a single consciousness rather than distinct voices.

Also; Ben was supposed to be like 12 years old. He was definitely written with a much younger personality, maybe 6 or 7 – and that was in the short amount of time he was actually in the book for.

I suppose overall it was a good foray into the world but I got a bit frustrated with the way Crouch wrote things, wherein whole sentences became a paragraph on their own but not really in a necessary way. Perhaps this was done to build a sense of speed, of zooming to that final conclusion.

Speaking of the conclusion it didn’t end as I had expected. There was no overcoming of the Abbie’s, no happily ever after to speak of. The final act for these people who had no choice in this world… was to go back to sleep and ignore the problem in the vain hope it would go away. The epilogue, if you could call it that, was a one liner which leaves the series open to more sequels (and also, strikes me as a bit lazy but that’s just my opinion). In light of that I would like there to not be another series – leave it to lay in peace here.

The ending is different to the first TV series ‘Wayward Pines’ and I liked that, I just didn’t expect it. Now that I have read the books I may have to go and rewatch the series.

Next book review will be for ‘Children of Ruin’

What are you reading at the moment? Any recommendations?

Kialtho

Egyptian Adventure II: Homeward

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The last few days in the Red Sea were all about spending time just ‘being’. I read another book, spent time in the pool, and we went snorkelling a few times in the sea as well. I have to say though, I did struggle with the inactivity towards the end. I am a busy person, I like to be doing things or have things planned in to do. Also, I’m like the palest of pale so sunbathing isn’t necessarily my best friend nor best idea. I didn’t burn too much on this trip, and even towards the end I didn’t put as much sunscreen on because to be honest I don’t even know what my skin can take. I have the faintest of tan lines where my Apple Watch goes so at least it shows that I did get some sun!

The journey back wasn’t too bad. Alex was laughing at me because the hotel had a policy where they came to get your bags from your room, and I couldn’t see that ours had been bought down (it’s that whole trusting someone else to do it for you thing, and that element of lack of control thing). We were sitting in the lobby of the reception for about an hour or so before our coach was due to take us back to the airport. This was mainly so we could mooch the WiFi as bad as it was (although, not as bad as the last time we were in Egypt).

We spent a few hours in the lobby across the week to use the internet, we would check in with the world and then spend time playing Pokemon Go. In this way I managed to get four regional Pokemon that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get: Tropius, Illumise, Seviper and Corsola (actually, I already had that one from a special event a while back but it was cool to be able to catch it here). My main goal was to get the Tropius so I’m glad that was achieved, and everything else was a bonus on top of that. We only saw the Illumise twice, and and Seviper and Corsola once, but overall I thought it was a good haul. I got 9 or 10 of Tropius. Their regionals were so much better than our shitty Mr Mime. I hate that guy so much.

We got to the airport with about 2.5/3 hours spare. Going through security was interesting – there were 3 separate checks we had to go through to get to the gate, including an initial X-Ray and metal detector which led to check in and luggage drop. Once through that queue there was another to get the Visa stamped for leaving the country, and another X-Ray and security check. The lines are separate for men and women as well, women are checked by women and men by men and no switch between the two. (I don’t remember this from the last time we went to Egypt, maybe it’s new?). Whilst in this section I was randomly selected for a full body scan by the bomb squad (I think this was because I was waiting for Alex to get through security as the men’s line was longer than the women’s). I had to walk through what looked like a metal detector and then turn on the spot, but it took about 5 tries for the machine to read me.

After that section was the shopping and duty free. Most importantly, food. I was looking forward to my Burger King which much like the MacDonalds from central Hurghada, was massive. As was the drink to go with it. We then made our way to the gate, which involved yet another security check and everything in the bags were taken out and looked at by officials before we could be in the right area for our plane.

The plane was late landing, and then late boarding, and then late taking off as there was an issue with the steps connected to the plane (they couldn’t get them off). The pilot was super sassy explaining this to us and it was so funny. The flight itself was boring, some turbulence on the way back in the middle of it. I didn’t manage to get much sleep but I tried. When we landed we also had problems getting off the plane as there was a issue with the tunnel that connects to the exit – and again we had the pilots sass to entertain us explaining what the situation was (apparently whilst there was lots of people below waiting to unload the plane no one was able to actually drive the tunnel equipment.

We got home about 4/4:30 am. My dad picked us up from the airport and then we dropped him off and came home. I slept until about 7ish so not long really and did some super boring stuff like starting all the holiday washing and going and getting some food in. I also went to the Apple store to get my phone sorted, which luckily for me they replaced under warranty despite the overriding liquid damage as there was also a security issue with the phone.

I picked up a bug on the plane though and have had a cold since I came back. Hopefully I’m in the tail end phase of it now, but my glands have been up the whole time I’ve been back, plus the snotty nose and the sore throat means that Boots chemist is my best friend as they sell Tyrozelts or whatever they’re called that numb up your throat.

Right that’s all from me about Egypt for now. I have 3 book reviews to write (I cannot remember the last time I read so much in 2 weeks, especially since I started knitting), I’ll upload these soonish, Stranger Things 3 to watch and some knitting to do.

Thanks for reading!

Kialtho

Egyptian Adventure II: Hurghada Bound, Super Safari and a bit more in between

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As I mentioned in my previous blog post this holiday is definitely more about relaxation than doing things. That being said the bulk of the excursions that we had planned happened in a few really close together days, so I’ll write about them and break them down before moving to the next bit. To be fair I was planning to write yesterday, but didn’t for reasons I’ll go into in a bit.

So the first question: where did I leave off? I think it was Thursday or Friday on the last day I wrote the blog. To be fair we didn’t do an awful lot on Friday and Saturday – it was very much a couple of days around the pool ensuring that we’ve put enough sunscreen on (we’ve both come out in a heat rash all over our body and we both think that this could be because of the sunscreen we were using, so we’ve ditched that one and stuck with a Nivea one), and making sure that we’re enjoying the pools. The pools at this hotel are quite deep which is great as it keeps them that bit cooler. The one that we’ve sort of chosen to inhabit comes up to my shoulders quite comfortably and has a decent amount of shade around it. There is another pool that’s slighter deeper but has less shade so this one seems to be the winner.

On Sunday we went on a tour to the town centre which included a trip to an Aquarium – apparently the largest either in Egypt or in Hurghada, I can’t quite remember which one. As we were getting ready to leave for this one the receipt for proof of payment got mislaid (but we weren’t the only couple to not have it) so Alex went off to find it and then was gone ages. We definitely made our tour bus late on that one. What was worse is that the receipt was in my backpack in the end the whole time. Oooooppps.

The aquarium was strange. I can’t remember the last time I went to an aquarium, like Sea Life or something like that. Seriously, I know I’ve been I just can’t remember the details. It was good, inside was what you would expect of a place that keeps various types of fishes. And sharks. And mantarays (<– I have no idea if that’s spelt right and the spell check isn’t picking up on it). We got a fair few photo’s here, and Alex liked it because it was cool inside. There were animals outside too like ostriches but their enclosures weren’t very big so I wasn’t too keen on that.

After the aquarium we went into Hurghada itself. Here we did a few things. We went to a fixed prices mall of sorts. Basically somewhere you could buy souvenirs without the hassle (I mean you still got hassled but the prices were fixed) so I picked up a couple of bits here. I’m not bringing loads of stuff home with me this time around, but I like the things that I’ve got. And to be honest once you’ve seen one set of souvenirs you’ve more or less seen them all.

After this we went to a Mosque. Now this really interested me as I have never been to a mosque before and I have always been blown away by the elaborate nature of the ones seen on TV. Like, going to Haggia Sofia is on my List of Things To Do in Life. The one that we went to was the biggest mosque for the whole area, and was only 8 years old or something like that. It can fit up to 25,000 worshippers when it comes to the end of Ramadan and big festivals. In any day it could fit about 10,000 people. In order to enter the mosque all the women of the tour group had to be dressed up in clothing that covered the arms, legs and the face as bit. I can’t remember the name of it, but it wasn’t a burkha or anything like that. It was like a long dress with arms and a hood basically.

I learned a lot inside the mosque and I enjoyed it but it was strange for me. I don’t consider myself religious in the slightest, but when I do visit Christian cathedrals there’s a sombreness and a heaviness that I feel for being there. I sort of expected this when visiting the mosque as well, to feel the divine presence of God or something similar. Maybe it’s because the building wasn’t all that old, or maybe because it is just a vast, decorated open space with nothing to actually see on the inside…. I don’t know. I guess what I take away from this is that should I have a religious calling in life it wouldn’t be Islam.

Once we finished at the mosque and returned the dresses we went a visited a ship yard. This reminded me a little of Hastings Old Town where the boats are all around in various states of (dis)repair. It was fascinating to watch them building the boats, and as we were walking around there a man was hammering rope into the underside of a boat in construction and make such fast progress on it it felt kind of surreal.

We also visited a perfume shop. A proper one, not like the knock off ones around the hotel. We had both wanted to visit a proper one as we wanted to get more oils from the last time we were here. Alex wanted to get some 212, and he got me some La vie La Belle which is my favourite perfume. I got mum some Chanel no 5. as well. Alex got a few more bits a pieces here. This stuff is so good! I still have the oils from the last time we were here, and they smell as good as they did when I got them 8 years ago!

After this we went to Hurghada central which is their main shopping district. I think should we come back to Egypt in the future and we can’t get to Sharm then I think this is the area we should stay. At the hotel there isn’t much around when you leave at night time, whereas in the centre there’s everything you could want including loads of tacky tourist shops. Not going to lie, we had a MacDonald’s here. The hotel food is a bit rubbish so this was a great opportunity to eat before we got back to the hotel, and not only were the chips hot (which everyone seemed to comment on but I couldn’t really as I don’t really eat MacDonald’s at home) the actual food was massive. Like easily three times the size of a British dinner. Do I want another one before we leave? Quite possibly. Hopefully there’s one at the airport.

Overall this was a really good day out as we crammed really quite a lot in and got a lot for our money’s worth. I would do it again if it included different parts of the main city.

On Monday we did a super safari. This was basically a taste of all the things you could do in the desert, including quad biking, jeep safari, a little camel ride and a visit to the local Bedouins. This was similar to things we did before with Sharm Club in the Sinai, and to be honest once you’ve done it once… you’ve done it. But that being said it was cool to get on a Quad bike again, even if it did once again make me feel a bit motion sick. The jeep safari was new experience and utterly terrifying in some bits too. Like those drivers know that desert inside out I guess they have no problems putting the car at an almost 45 degree angle and driving along for a bit.

The Bedouin settlement was interesting in that we learned a lot about them, why they were there and details of their living. I think I was more sceptical about the whole thing this time though for this reason: Bedouins are nomadic, they travel the desert. They aren’t under the laws of Egyptian authorities, unlikely to have birth certificates and don’t have anything to do with civilisation etc etc. I was sceptical because they build wells by hand, and then reinforce them with stone. (Their well was amazing, but I wasn’t feeling great at this time so didn’t get any photo’s of it. It was a good 30/40 meters deep though!) This particular tribe of Bedouins had their water supplied for them by the tourist board and put in tanks which the tourist board then monitor and resupply as necessary; I felt that this tribe had sort of been entrapped to stay there and live in abstract poverty at the whim of tourists/the tourist board. It was probably the same for those that we visited in Sharm, and I don’t remember learning about wells and water back then, but yeah… if those Bedouins decided to move on the tourist board would loose a fair amount of money so… I don’t know. For me I didn’t want to have the descending voice among the crowd so I didn’t ask the questions. I also didn’t want to be left in the middle of the desert! (Their mosque was a simple stone built structure as well, older than the one in the city centre but also didn’t call to me, and also built/supplied/looked after by the tourist board). Alex absolutely loved the quad bikes and would spend all day every day on them if he could!

Yesterday was Alex’s birthday and we had solid plans to go to Hard Rock Cafe. I know, not quite Egyptian food but Alex struggles to find things to eat so for him was perfect. We also had our second massage in the morning which was just as good as the first but this time none of my muscles popped! We booked a taxi through the hotel, which in hindsight I wouldn’t do again… this is because when we were in Sharm they really emphasised to use the hotel taxi’s because you could trust them and they wouldn’t take you to their brothers/cousins/fathers shop or whatever. The taxi firm in this hotel did exactly that! As soon as he said you’ll see my brothers shop we were on high alert. Not okay! So I would find a reputable company on TripAdvisor or something and book through them instead. Probably be cheaper too!

The hotel did a really nice touch for Alex too. I mean, if I could take credit I would, but I can’t. We were out yesterday, we got the massage and we also got some full face snorkel masks which makes swimming in the sea soooooooo much better that if I’d had one of them I would have had a much easier time that just goggles and a breathing tube! We spent a great deal of yesterday in the sea looking at the coral and the fish, and when we eventually returned to the room the housekeeping and guest relations had put a cake in there and decorated the bed in towel swans and written him a birthday note. It was all really sweet. The cake was a proper birthday cake too! ‘Happy Birthday’ written in chocolate fondant on it for him. I haven’t yet tried it so will eat some this evening.

So that’s it for the time being. We have until Sunday which I think will be a case of swimming pool, sea (now that we have those masks) and just relaxing the rest of our days here. There isn’t a great deal to do around the place so it’s just a case of enjoy the pool. I even have a slight tan!

I may not write another blog until I get home as we don’t have lot else planned except swimming, swimming and more swimming. And relaxing, and reading, etc etc.

Current things I don’t like: the food on offer at the buffet (definitely go a la carte it’s much better!), still washing my hair a couple of times a day, the rip off taxi and dodgy ‘go see my brothers shop’ thing. Egyptian driving/roads in general.

Current things I love: just relaxing, not having to worry about anything. The fact that I have a tan, however slight! The treat the hotel did for Alex. The new snorkel masks that make everything so much easier to do under water.

Right, that’s all for now I’m sure I’ve bored you all enough.

Stay safe,

Kialtho

 

 

 

 

Egyptian Adventure II: Arrival, Massages and a Dolphin Swim

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At the beginning of this year Alex said to me ‘We need a holiday’. Now he wasn’t exactly wrong when he said that, our last holiday abroad (not visiting his parents in Ireland and a wedding in Cornwall exactly counting for much really) was to Egypt back in 2012 (I think. I’m trying to get the dates up on the blog but I’m not having much luck with the hotel WiFi. It’s not the best). That particular holiday for me was a dream come true, so when Alex suggested that we came back to Egypt (the price being a huge factor in our choices) I couldn’t exactly say no. There’s been a lot of stuff going on at home that’s made me not really want to blog lately, which is one of the reasons it’s been so quite here (I’m not going into details, no). This holiday was definitely a welcome break from the stuff at home and work… which sucks all my time like you wouldn’t believe.

Last time we came to Egypt we went to Sharm el Sheik, and it was such a great experience, but obviously with the global political crises, terrorism (the Russian plane MJ9268 was just 23 minutes into it’s flight out of the Sinai when it was downed in 2015) and no direct flights to Sharm we instead came to Hurghada. (We did look at coming here when we first came to Egypt but settled for Sharm as the more popular destination). The world is a totally different place now in those short 8 years… oh, how it’s changed. But enough of that, that’s put an early downer onto the blog! Time to talk about the holiday so far!

We arrived quite early at Gatwick on Monday. I think in the end we were 4 hours early for our fight – which to be honest suited me just fine as I get anxious (I don’t know why) about getting into the airport and then getting through luggage check – it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve weighed my suitcase at home and know it’s under I’m still convinced that the scales at the airport are going to weigh them wrong! Why is that? I also get anxious going through the security check as even though I know there’s not a single drop in liquid in my bag… what if there is? What if I am the person that is singled out for a check and they find something that doesn’t belong even though I know that it’s okay…. you can see why this is a problem for me. These sorts of things seem to have gotten worse as I’ve got older, not better which I thought that they would to be honest.

Whilst we were at Gatwick we picked up a few last minute things – like which idiot forgot to pack her hairbrush? Or the insulated water bottles? Or hair ties? Yeah. You got it. This idiot.

We choose to have a Nando’s before we left for one very simple reason: Alex struggles to find food that he likes… so for him it was a fair well England let’s have some chicken and chips before we go. (And so far, haven’t been wrong in that, he’s definitely struggled to find food his likes so has mostly been eating bread rolls/toast/chips when he can find them). We also bought a rugged little point and shoot camera that can go under water so that we could take some photo’s snorkelling.

Our hotel is really nice. I can’t say I understand the layout of the country/terrain but my understanding is that we aren’t in Hurghada itself, but a small distance away from it. Our room is lovely, and I think it’s even the same size, if not bigger,  than our flat. We’ve gone all inclusive (although, we’re not actually sure what that entitles us too as for some reason we don’t get events and alcohol included… although I’m sure there must be some somewhere). I think it’s slightly warmer here than when we were in Sharm as it’s slightly later in the year by about a few weeks. When I wrote the blog before I think I did it every other day as there was an excursion day followed by a rest day, whereas this time the plan is maybe to write every couple of days as it’s mainly a rest holiday not an excursion holiday – we’ve booked three/four things and that’s going to be about it this time around.

So we arrived Monday, Tuesday was an induction about the hotel and the excursions on offer from the hotel/tour operator (we couldn’t find anything like Sharm Club like we did on the last holiday so have stuck to the tour operator). After the induction, and breakfast, we went for a walk around the hotel and found the beach. It’s lovely, but always a surprise when the sand isn’t…. sand. At least not in the same manner we’re used to at home. This stuff is hard and gritty, you don’t sink into it. And the sea (the Red Sea, incase you were wondering…) we it sort of goes on for ages at a really shallow depth then suddenly drops to about waist height, then drops again and is deep. We splashed around here for a little while before heading back to the beach and where we’d put our stuff. The plan was to relax there for a bit, but of course the bit I had tuned out of my memory – the hassling. Buy this service, have this product, have a massage, have beauty treatment etc etc. We were about to leave and a masseuse came over, and actually I had wanted to get a massage on this holiday so we played him hard and then got 2 massages each booked for the equivalent of £30 per session. You actually can’t get that in the UK. So we had that on Tuesday. Let me tell you: that massage was and ‘Egyptian massage’ and I kid you not the woman literally sat on my back…. but it felt better after. Her hands worked hard all over my body and it definitely felt floaty and nice afterwards. After that was done we went back to the roofer a bit before grabbing dinner.

Wednesday we literally chilled by the pool for most of the day. (And yes, don’t worry I’m being diligent with my sunscreen). I had finished my book the previous day ‘The Last Town’ by Blake Crouch (review to come on that at some point), and had started the book that is my holiday read. I have literally been saving this for a long time, partly because it’s a big book, but partly because it’s the second in a series and the first was my favourite book read for a long time a small while ago – ‘Children of Ruin’ by Adrian Tchaikovsky – and I don’t make enough time for reading at home just lately this would be the perfect time to delve back into this universe. (So far, no regret either!).

Today, Thursday, we did our first excursion. We did a dolphin swim and snorkel session in the Red Sea. This involved going around to hotels with a coach, picking up a bunch of people, going to the swim and dive centre and getting our flippers and snorkels and then going off in a boat. Overall the experience was really good. I definitely preferred the snorkel session over the dolphin one as the dolphin one you had to go out into the choppy bits of sea, evacuate the boat in a hurry and then get back in and go to the next place. Now, I’m definitely a better and stronger swimmer than I was but I got into the sea and panicked, then got back out again really quite quickly. I thought I was going to be able to manage it, but I didn’t. In hindsight, I should have taken a life jacket for this but I thought I was strong enough to not need one. Lesson learned should I want to do it again. Alex got into the ocean and then swallowed a load of salt water and was sick for most of the rest of the journey so he spent his time on the lower levels of the boat feeling ill and feeling a bit sorry for himself. He didn’t eat anything on the boat (lunch was provided) and perked up a bit afterwards to get into the sea for the second snorkel adventure. I took the point and shoot for this session so that I could get some photo’s mainly to show Alex what was down there as he wasn’t coming with me – I don’t know how good they are yet as I haven’t viewed them on the computer. I shot a little video down there too.

And that’s about it for the time being. Our next outing is on Sunday to the local market, and I think they said something about visiting a Mosque as well (I’d like to do this actually as I’ve never been to one so hopefully that is something that will happen).

Current things I don’t like: having to wash my hair every day (humidity, swimming etc etc), the weird smell of the reclaimed water they use for watering the grass at night time (they did this in Sharm too), the knowledge that Sharm is essentially an abandoned hub these days as the downing of the plane killed it, Alex putting my iPhone XS Max into the swimming pool because it’s waterproof and then bricking it for about 3 hours. It’s now working but Face ID and the front camera aren’t working properly.

Current things I love: relaxing, spending time with Alex ( despite the iPhone issue) and knowledge that I got back in the sea when I really didn’t want to so that I could complete the snorkelling adventure, disconnecting from the world except for a few short bursts every day and enjoying my well earned downtime.

Until next time folks,

Kialtho

 

 

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

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Okay, okay I know I am bit late to the party with this book, I mean it was all hype when it was released however many years ago. I’ve had it on my bookshelf to read for a long time, and the only reason I did actually get around to reading it was because my niece lent me the book thinking it would be something that I would enjoy. (I’ve been lending her loads of my books, so she lent me something back in return which I thought was really, really sweet).

Fun fact: way back when I first decided I was going to read this I got it confused with Gone Girl. So I ended up reading and watching the films in the wrong order and wondered how they related to each other. I sort of enjoyed the film for The Girl on the Train, and had no problems with the plot of the book being known considering that fact.

Here’s the synopsis:

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

No what I liked about the book, and obviously what I didn’t realise about the film, is that it’s set in the UK, on a commuter line into London. It makes it more relatable in a way to where and what you’re reading (the other book that has done this for me was a book called ‘The End of Mr Y’ or something like that which was set in Canterbury where I went to university. Talk about being able to picture the setting!).

The thing about this book that strikes me the most is that I didn’t particularly like it, nor any of the characters that are in it. All the men are controlling, narcissistic types that have no trouble raising a hand to their woman. All the women were defined by the men in their lives and what had happened as a result, e.g. Rachel’s descent into alcoholism, Meghan and her past AND her present and the choices that she makes that we’re supposed to see aren’t really hers, or Anna being defined by being a mother, and not much more. Now, I get how these characters are affected by the men in their lives, but also, I don’t understand how they didn’t define themselves and move onward from them.

Or maybe, that’s just me.

Rachel gets the train everyday pretending to go to work so that her flatmate wouldn’t suspect that she’s lost her job, and the plot. Everyday the train stops by her old house and she spies on the neighbours who she thinks has it all and are the most perfect of perfect types. Obviously, when she sees the woman, Meghan, kissing another man her illusions are shattered, more so when it’s revealed that she goes missing that same (or was it the next?) night. She decides that she needs to tell the police that this woman was having an affair, and complicates the whole investigation by Jessica Fletcher-ing her way into the investigation.

Rachel has problems. She can’t let go of her ex husband, who cheated on her, and left her for his mistress. Rachel is a drunk (I don’t really like reading about drunks which is perhaps why I struggled to find any empathy for her). She drinks on the train, she causes havoc for her ex husbands new family and doesn’t really know how to control herself. It does become clear though, that Rachel is the linchpin of the whole operation, and perhaps without her the events that occur may not have happened. (For me this raises a more philosophical question in and around our day to day lives, if we don’t do something at a certain time, how will the rest of the world be affected? Small actions, or inactions, can lead to big consequences. I guess it’s a bit like the butterfly that flaps it’s wings in one part of the world could cause a hurricane in another).

Meghan was a liar and a cheat from the beginning, and although went through some traumatic experiences in her past could have dealt with them better. If she had been honest with herself she may not have ended up dead in the wood.

Anna…. I think out of all the characters I found Anna to be the least likeable. I couldn’t really pin my understanding of the dislike I had for the woman until much later on in the book and I think it came down to this: She’s an idiot. When you get with a man, that involves an affair with him already being married, when you lie and cheat and game yourself into that relationship – which they clearly did together – how can then you think that your husband is an honest man? Besides, being promoted to Wife meant the Mistress job was available. (Now, I’m sure there are many relationships that start this way in the real world, but I would never be able to trust my respective partner knowing that’s how our relationship started. You know? Maybe it’s just me. Or maybe it’s just how it’s portrayed in this book. I don’t know here). Also, I didn’t really trust her maternal instincts on protecting her daughter during the climax at the end. It didn’t seem real enough.

There aren’t a lot of other characters in this book. The two husbands, Rachel’s flatmate, a few extra characters that add nothing to the book. I like to think that the ending was obvious, but as I mentioned at the top I saw the film before I read the book so couldn’t really say whether I saw it coming or not.

Do I regret picking up the book? Not especially, but it’s one that can now be ticked off my TBR pile. Next up is Blake Crouches’ finally to the Wayward Pines series. Then Children of Ruin which is going to be my by the pool reading when I get to Egypt next week.

What are you reading at the moment?

Kialtho

Muse of Nightmares – Strange the Dreamer #2 – Laini Taylor

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I realise that I finished this book a few weeks ago but it’s taken some time to sink into my head and for me to really appreciate it. I loved reading it. I shall try to ensure I don’t include any spoilers, so without further adieu here’s the synopsis:

Synopsis:

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.
She believed she knew every horror, and was beyond surprise.
She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice–save the woman he loves, or everyone else?–while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

What I loved about Strange the Dreamer, the first one, was the attention to detail, the beauty of the world and the intrigue around blue people with magical powers, a city in the shadow of a metal angel and the perils of the people in the city below. I loved that in this one, we pick up in that same story, with so many revelations around what happened at the end of the first book and how they are going to be dealt with – Lazlo, Sarai, Minya and all the others had a lot of story and heartache to be resolved.

I finished reading this probably about 3 weeks ago so I’m not really sure where to start. Maybe throwing a few characters out there for discussion? Yeah that sounds good.

I’m going to start with Minya, which may not be the obvious choice considering the main characters are Lazlo and Sarai, but Minya probably had the most character development. In this second book we are enlightened to some of her past, of why she is the way that she is and what her gift is, and just how string she really is. Minya, at the age of 6 held the world on her shoulders, committed acts of great violence and shouldered the burden of bring up 4 babies by her self. Literally, by herself. She saved the ghosts of the Ellen’s which admittedly did the caring but only in a way that meant that Minya sacrificed her soul.

We were introduced to a new character in this book, a new and more terrifying Big Bad than what we had seen before. A woman so concerned with one task, and vengeance, that all else was forgotten to her. A rubbish start in the beginning of her life, the tearing apart of her sister and the lengths she went to in order to find and avenge her sister were nothing short of immense. You have to admire the strength of it, even if it did come off a little one dimensional towards the end.

Sarai died at the end (and I suppose the beginning) of the first book. She spends her time in this one as a ghost under Minya’s thrall, but it is what she does there that allows her character to grow. I loved that she knew what she wanted to do by the end and how she would try and help those like her who had suffered the worst of fates. I liked that she still had a gift to use, and that it evolved into something different with her death – and also that it could still be manipulated away from her.

Lazlo was a pretty badass character, but he was definitely shoved to the background in light of Sarai and her story. This book was definitely Sarai’s story, whereas the first book was Lazlo’s story. Lazlo suffered a lot in the book as well, but for a variety of different reasons.

Many of the other characters faded into the background but had potential for more when or if Laini Taylor writes more in this universe, even if she doesn’t write about these specific characters again.

I loved these two books, and I would very much like to have more from the author in this universe.

I have since started The Girl on the Train…. which I am not making much progress with. What are you reading at the moment?

Kialtho

Baby Sophisticate and Summer Skies Hat

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Over the last month I have two finished objects to share with you all – that’s pretty exciting right? I didn’t feel the need to blog straight after the first project as it was only a small thing, but it was the Summer Skies hat. I originally planned this to be a hat for my six year old niece, however, it came out far too small so I offered it out on my Facebook page for someone to claim.

For this one I used King Cole Riot in DK weight, and it’s a really lovely yarn to use. It’s soft – softer than most of the acrylics I use (I think there maybe some wool content too) and the colours are lovely. I used it for a project late last year for a Christmas present and loved the colour vibrancy and the frequency of the changes (not too long, not too short).

The downside to this project, and I’m not sure why but I think it was the combination of yarn and needles, but I got repetitive strain injury making this! How ridiculous is that?

The second is Baby Sophisticate which I sort of stumbled across on Ravelry and decided I would also make for the person who claimed the hat. Of course, knitting was reduced because of the RSI. It should have only taken a few days from beginning to end however it has taken around about two weeks (because of the injury). I used my Chiagoo on this one as well as the hat, and am wondering whether the needles just aren’t suited to my knitting style, or perhaps the size of my hands? (My hands are relatively small?)

I used Hayfield Bonus on this one. It’s a hardy yarn that holds up well to washing and abuse, so should be good for a baby project. This particular colourway is a tweedy one so a bit coarser than most, but a few washes should soften it up a bit.

I think that’s it for knitting updates for now; time to decide what to make next!

Kialtho

Campside Cardi

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Well, it feels like it’s been a long time coming but I finally have a new Finished Object to share!

According to Ravelry, it has taken me 49 days to make this item. Is that a long time? My bigger projects tend to average out at about 6 weeks, so I guess this fits in with that. It’s been a good make, and to be fair probably wouldn’t have taken me quite a so long except for that thing called ‘real life’ taking forefront as helping my daddy through a bit of a rough time that saw him hospitalised with a serious spinal infection (luckily, he’s on the mend now and is at home in recovery. He’s not used to being so… still? He’s usually working hard and spending time riding his motorbike!).

I used Stylecraft Special DK for this one. I think had I had better resources/money I would have gone for a wool blend yarn but more than anything I wanted to get knitting and this is a good decent yarn. I choose a teal like colour as I wanted something ‘different’… except when I came home I realised I’ve already made jumpers and what not in similar shades, so perhaps not all that different after all.

The pattern is called ‘Campside Cardi’ and is available on Ravelry. I’m not quite sure how I came across, probably in the Hot Right Now section, but as soon as I saw it I wanted to make it. I like that about patterns, the ones you just have to make, you know?

There isn’t much to say about the pattern itself. It’s super simple to understand, not very long as it doesn’t need to be. You work top down, and the sleeve stitches on hold until it comes to making the sleeves, which are then also made top down. (I should have done a separate gauge swatch for the sleeves at the tension is notably different – in my eyes – and they are a little tight if I am honest). This was the first time I have made sleeves top down to be fair, I’ve always had patterns that start at the cuff.

I enjoyed this make. It was what I needed at this point in my life with everything else going on. Time for something more complex perhaps?

Oh, and did you see that super pretty pattern that Stephen West released that looks just like a knitted ‘Starry Skies’ by Van Gogh? I definitely will be making that in the future.

…. and being as though we’re catching up on some knitting related stuff here, check out this super pretty yarns I got from ‘Handmade Studios’ after a random road trip towards the Portsmouth area.

And this one which I ordered from Mothy and Squid, for which my photo doesn’t do it any justice at all!

That’s all for now, let’s see if I can find a new project to cast on this evening!

Kialtho