Holiday snaps (iii): Queen Mary 2

This is what was waiting for us in our Princess Grill Cabin:

This was the view from our cabin on the grey, drizzly Friday when we left New York:DSCF4099That is the Statue of Liberty in the gloomy distance. Her torch was still shining, though.

And, um, that is the last photo I took. Sorry. Here’s some postcards I bought:DSCF4103

The captain informed us that we cleared this bridge with about 2m to spare. That is not very much at all!DSCF4102We didn’t get to sail round the statue as in the top postcard, because we were delayed leaving and the weather was so bad.

This is my haul from the ship:

DSCF410110th Anniversary book of the QM2. Personalised stationery. Cunard chocolates. Cunard slippers. I also have a Cunard pen somewhere.

So, um, you’ll have to imagine the rest. There was a lot of sea. It was very beautiful. I will blog about what it was like on the ship but the tl;dr version is: AMAZING.

Holiday snaps (ii): USA

Birthday present from lovely friends I stayed with in DC:


We went to the Smithsonian to see the exhibition of First Ladies’ Dresses which was very fun. We also saw a vast dolls’ house, Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz, and Miss Piggy:WP_20130721_001

I have no photos from my time in Philly because I wasn’t really being a tourist there.

In NYC, we went to the Fashion District: WP_20140513_001

And mostly we went to Mood where they sell zips:


…and buttons…WP_20140513_004

…and trimmings…WP_20140513_002

…and fabrics:WP_20140513_003

I made some purchases:



I did not take any photos when we went to see the Lion King because there were a lot of people telling us all the time that we weren’t allowed to. It did not stop many people, however. I really think that if Disney don’t want people taking pictures of the safety curtain, the easiest thing would be to use a plain safety curtain. Nor did I take pictures of the Charles James exhibition at the Met, because again it wasn’t allowed. Nor have I taken photos of all my other purchases because I’m assuming you know what jeans, plasters and plain pashminas look like. And the glorious necklace I bought was pictured in a previous post.

Holiday snaps (i): Iceland

I am hopeless at taking photos. I never remember to do it, I get things out of focus and out of shot, and I much prefer just to enjoy the moment without recording it. However, I have taken some photos of some things in the last three weeks. Probably not the things you were interested in seeing, but they are the things I was interested in remembering. So here they are, more or less in order, with occasional commentary.

Yarn I bought in Iceland:
This is actually Danish yarn. DK weight. Very pretty colours.

Icelandic Plotulopi.

Close up of the Plotulopi. It’s unspun yarn, so it is incredibly light and airy and warm. When it’s knitted up it felts a little bit, making it into a secure fabric. The yarn itself breaks easily and has to be handled carefully. It’s not soft yarn, so I’m thinking of making a jacket kind of thing to be warn as a warm outer layer.

Other pictures from Iceland:
WP_20140506_025Knitted onesies. Of course.

WP_20140506_022Useless picture of Strokkur, the geyser which is currently most active. A good photographer would have held the camera the other way round, obviously.

WP_20140506_001Icelandic hill with snow.

WP_20130720_004Icelandic lava field with moss.


Other things I bought in Iceland:DSCF4105

DSCF4106 Photo book of Iceland’s colours and patterns. I love this so much. Each photo has a palette of colours and there’s a reference list of colours at the back.

Also (not pictured): plastic Viking helmet for my nephew.

What I did on my summer holidays

Gosh, I’ve been away for a long time. Hello! Did you miss me? Or were you off having exciting adventures of your own this summer?

Here’s what’s happened in the last six weeks:

  1. I went to the Lake District for a week. It rained every day. Also, I was not relaxed because I had three huge looming deadlines shortly after I returned. Also, there are a LOT of people who go on holiday to the Lake District and I found it hard to escape the crowds and relax. On the plus side, I got to spend some time with the lovely Kate Hewitt, and Andy Murray won Wimbledon.
  2. It was hot. Too hot. For two weeks when I needed to work really, really hard. I had revisions to do on the footballer book, and I had to finish Hattie and Tom’s book to send to the editor. I did get there in the end. At 3am the night before I was due to go away again.
  3. I went on summer camp (no actual camping involved, phew). This is a thing I have done for over 20 years, though not for the last few years, so it was good to go back again this summer.
  4. I had three days at home, one of which was spent in Manchester catching up with an old university friend, which was such a treat.
  5. A long weekend in Northern Ireland including a wedding and chance to visit other friends. I had a really wonderful time and hope to go back again sometime soon.
  6. Three more days at home including… FINISHING AND SUBMITTING THE THESIS!!!!  I know, right?! I can’t quite believe it either. I still have to have the viva and doubtless there will be corrections, but IT IS DONE.
  7. Very kind friends invited me on their family holiday in Scotland. I’ve been here for two weeks and thoroughly spoiled – no driving, no cooking, no decision-making. It’s been miserable weather mostly (apart from the one glorious day when we went to Skye), but it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve swum in the sea, taken boat trips and seen seals, a basking shark and sea otters. I’ve had an impromptu spinning lesson, eaten wild raspberries warm from the sun, and begun writing a new story.

I’ll be home again tomorrow and getting ready over the bank holiday weekend for normal life to resume. It’s going to be an exciting few months with two new books coming out. Lying for the Camera should be available to buy from the last week in September and An Unsuitable Husband is due out with Entangled in December, I think. I’m also planning to finish up the Scottish short story and have that on sale in October or November.

Me, with Scottish castle:  scotland-004


Having finished my bedroom, I seem to have turned my attention to the bathroom. I basically still like the original choices I made here but it needed a new toilet seat and there was one wall where the paint had been peeling off for, um, several years. And suddenly the whole room was looking a bit bland and shabby. No more!


Sparkly loo seat! Also, a thing for holding all the bits and pieces over the bath. And a basket for spare loo rolls. I still have a plan to line this and then it needs hanging from the hooks. At the moment, the flush is hidden underneath it. It’s not very easy to see, but the corner of wall on the far right has now been painted silver.


New wall art! Four postcards of Puffin book covers in some cheap IKEA frames I had lying around. I painted the frames silver, bought a sheet of acetate because the glass inserts of the frames had long since disappeared, and made this little display. The others are wallpaper samples, cut into shapes and mounted on silver-painted foam core board. I used mod podge to stick and glaze them, so hopefully they will survive the steamy bathroom.


From the other side. The glass on the bottom shelf is also new, but the silk painting is not. The postcards are Worzel Gummidge, Paddington at Large, Professor Branestawm, and Alice in Wonderland.

And this is my favourite thing:


Based on an idea from How About Orange, I stuck more postcards on foam core board. Then I sprayed with glitter varnish, because I had some and it seemed like a good idea. It was.

I am very pleased with the whole thing. It is less shabby, though not exactly chic. But it is bright and fun. And I have even cleaned it thoroughly as well.

1 2