Edward, Samuel and a Possum Named Leadbeater

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. Image from Wikipedia

During the summer in 2011 I decided that I would try and trace my family history. With almost no information on my mother’s side (mainly due to the fact that my grandfather discovered at a young age that the couple who had brought him up weren’t his biological parents) it seemed a daunting task, but after obtaining his birth certificate I managed to trace his birth mother with http://www.ancestry.com and from there was able to build an entire family tree and even speak to living relatives in the same area that my mother still resides in. It was a fascinating journey – especially when I contacted my great-grandmother’s family with information about my grandfather who they knew nothing about, but accepted immediately once they had seen the striking physical resemblance in photographs that I sent. Continue reading

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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive, Live Happy

I always love it when I see my blog friends doing fantastic things.

Cher – creator of The Chicago Files (and an all-round decent human being) has fulfilled a dream this year to publish some of her work, and I was delighted to see that she has been included in the latest release of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive, Live Happy.

With 101 stories that inspire positive thinking, there’s something for everyone who are looking to live a happier and more fulfilling life.

Her story, which can be found on Page 191, is titled ‘When the Blind Taught Me to See’ was inspired by her volunteering time at Blind Service Association where she lives in Chicago. Continue reading

A Few Days in Bolton

Bolton Albert Halls

I’ve been up north over the last few days with the family as mum had an operation – nothing major thank goodness, but she needed someone to stay post-recovery in case of an emergency and to walk the dog. Thankfully, everything has gone well and while she is going to have to take it easy and be monitored over the next few weeks, her immediate post-op results were good and she didn’t experience the problems that we expected as she has a history of bad reactions to anaesthetic.

While I was there I had the opportunity to see my niece – who I labelled The Squidge when she was born due to her immense squidginess. The Squidge is no longer a squidge – at almost three years old she has turned into a beautiful little girl with bright blonde hair and piercing blue eyes who already knows her own mind, loves Pepper Pig and was happily showing us her dance steps that she has learned at the class that she goes to and the sign language that she has been taught at nursery. I remember being amazed when The Squidge could sit upright and feed herself, and now that she is a walking, talking little human who can count and who says please and thank you and puts her hand over her mouth when she coughs it was all I could do not to proclaim her a genius and suggest a membership to Mensa. Continue reading

Review: The Mousetrap at the Alexandra Theatre

© JOHAN PERSSON

Last night The Bloke and I were invited to the Press Night performance of The Mousetrap at the Alexandra Theatre. 

The scene is set when a group of people gathered in a country guesthouse cut off by the snow discover, to their horror, that there is a murderer in their midst. Who can it be? One by one the suspicious characters reveal their sordid pasts until at the last, nerve-shredding moment the identity and the motive are finally revealed… 

Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is the longest continuously-running play in history and has broken a whole slew of records, having been performed in London since 1952.  Continue reading

Review: Curtains at the Alexandra Theatre


From the Tony Award-winning creators of ‘Cabaret’ and ‘Chicago’ – John Kander and Fred Ebb – Curtains tells the story of Jessica Cranshaw, the talentless star of the new Broadway-bound musical
Robbin Hood – who has been murdered on stage on opening night, and the entire cast and crew are suspects. Time to call in the local detective – Frank Cioffi – who just happens to be a huge musical theatre fan. With a nose for crime and an ear for music, Frank has his work cut out trying to find the killer whilst giving the show a new lifeline. Continue reading

Hello, November!

Autumn and November I started October feeling particularly fired up and excited for the month ahead. I was on it – there were post ideas, graphics to create, social media posts to put up… I was going to work hard and was determined that I would finish the month better than I had started.

It turns out, October clearly had other plans… Continue reading

How to Live a More Simple Life

I’ve had a busy week / few weeks / month seems to be a staple sentence within a number of my blog posts. It’s isn’t an exaggeration as it’s rare that I get a long period of uninterrupted time to myself, and when I have logged off on a Friday night my brain has often felt more than a little fuzzy. However, being busy doesn’t equate to stress in the way it did when I was teaching – I’m lucky in that a lot of the things that I do and experience during each week vary widely and are usually lots of fun – but over recent months I have been trying to consciously trying to take steps to make life more simple. I have created lots of habits individually which I have blogged about over a period of time, but even just focusing on one of these could make a large amount of difference to your stress levels.
Continue reading

The Challenges of Being an Extroverted Introvert

The Challenges of Being an Extroverted Introvert

I’ve touched on the notion of having an extroverted introvert temperament in previous posts, but I’ve become more aware of the traits associated with this over the last few years.

Stereotypically, introverts prefer calmer environments, find socialising particularly draining and often need time alone to recharge and regain their energy. Introverts are often self aware and learn through the observation of others. Extroverts, on the other hand, often try to seek social stimulation and engagement with others and are characteristically talkative, assertive and excitable. They are excellent communicators within larger groups and enjoy being the centre of attention.

Of course, both are extremes and many people fall somewhere between the two categories. Extroverted introverts, or ambiverts, can generally be found within the middle of the spectrum, but with so many contradictory personality and social traits it’s a rather confusing place to be for both the individual and their friends.
Continue reading

Visiting Guy’s Cliffe House: A Hidden Gem in Warwick

Visiting Guy's Cliffe House in Warwick

The Bloke and I recently had a rare opportunity to explore Guy’s Cliffe House in Warwick. It is rarely available to public viewing, so when we saw that it was open for its Heritage Open Day (and on a stunningly beautiful day) we were really excited about it.

Guy’s Cliffe House is a Grade II listed building that stands on an artificially levelled terrace above a north-facing cliff. At the present most of the house is in ruins and unsuitable to walk through, with only the Grade II listed chapel and service quarters in use.

From humble beginnings as a secluded place of worship in the 5th century, the house has grown and changed with numerous additions in different styles. Sir Guy of Warwick reputably died in ‘Guy’s Cave’ in 970AD,’ and King Henry V ordered the establishment of a chapel in the 15th century. It has been owned by Plantation Owner Samuel Greatheed – Member of Parliament for Coventry – and later by the Heber-Percy family, it was used as a Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital in the First World War and  as a Boys Home by the Waifs and Strays Society during the Second World War… It is currently owned by the Freemasons and preserved by the Friends of Guy’s Cliffe Society. Continue reading

Visiting the Coronation Street Tour

Visiting the Coronation Street Tour

Where do you take a Canadian Coronation Street fan when she visits for a few days?

The Coronation Street Set Tour at Media City in Salford.

Obviously.

It’s probably worth mentioning that I’m not a fan of the show, but Elena Peters is. However, the show has always been a huge part of northern identity, and being from the north has always been something I’m incredibly proud of, and she’s always asking me to send pictures whenever I go to Manchester. Before the set was moved to Media City it was situated at Granada Studios in the centre of Manchester and I remember doing the tour then with my family, so I was interested to see how it now looked in a new location, and I was excited to see Elena’s reaction when she saw the set for the first time.

The Coronation Street Tour is a guided tour of the outdoor working set. Tickets are only available at weekends for a limited time and need to be booked in advance. Continue reading