Friday, 29 June 2012

Top trending: #favouritechildhoodbook

I've been transported back to my childhood years this afternoon scrolling through the thousands of tweets in response to the hashtag 'favourite childhood book'.

Amongst the tweets a few of my favourites jumped out at me: James & the Giant Peach, The Hungry Caterpillar and Bear Hunt to name a few. However, no one seemed to mention my absolute favourite which was of course the Milly-Molly-Mandy series by Joyce Lankester Brisley. Perhaps this is because the original books date back to 1928, even though these were being read to me by my Dad in the late 90s.

Looking back the stories were beautifully simple, as most children's books are. The Milly-Molly-Mandy series described the everyday adventures of a little girl named Millicent Margaret Amanda, nicknamed Milly-Molly-Mandy as her full name was thought to be too long. The character's most memorable features had to be her pink and white striped dress, and the fact that she lived in "the nice white cottage with the thatched roof", and these features were always described just so, with no need for any more detail.

Another characteristic of the books which kept me begging my Dad to read to me every night was the illustrations. Only every few pages as to not ruin the magic; I always looked forward to my Dad reading a page to me that had an accompanying picture.

I couldn't have described these wonderful stories better myself when Lucy Mangan wrote in The Guardian: "each story is a miniature masterpiece, as clear, warm and precise as the illustrations by the author that accompanied them."

Au revoir June...

It'd appear that I'm waving goodbye to June just as quickly as I said hello to it. I don't know where the time is going, but it's certainly going quickly!

Maybe it's the anticipation of moving in with my other half (you know what I mean!) Aimee in August, or the excitement of my best friend's hen weekend in Marbella. Or maybe it's starting my 2nd year at Uni? Or the several camping trips planned over the course of the summer.. Whatever it is, I wish it'd bloody slow down!

So anyway. June has been an eventful one, as always. As you know, I snapped myself a job up just a day after moving back home officially from uni, which is going really well and providing me with the pennies needed to supplement my dwindling student loan (hey, I did get it way back in APRIL!)

Things are going great on the fitness front as well, and I've dropped to my lowest weight for ages this month. I surprised myself with all the class I have managed to try out at the gym. From Pump FX to Step and Tone, LBT to Fitball. I'm loving them all. And it'd appear so is my shrinking waistline.

Perhaps the highlight of my month was spending some much needed quality time with my Daddy as we took a roadtrip to Versailles, Paris. Despite the drizzle and severe lack of Wifi, we had a blast, and walking some 15 miles around Paris had to be the best bit of it all. 

If you follow me on Instagram (graciebabesxo) you'll know that I acquired a slightly better memento than a fridge magnet on this holiday, and I came home with a brand new vintage Gitane. After months of pestering for a cute, vintage bike (I love my mountain bikes no end, but I really wanted something a bit more girly) I rode one away from a bike shop on Rue Royal. It's beautiful.

Anyway, more Paris talk to follow avec photos.

The Kindle vs Paperbacks: Is there any contest?

In the techno-mad 21st century we live in, it would seem there is a gadget to replace just about anything. Even books and magazines have been given a new lease of life from the development of e-readers, such as the Amazon Kindle. But will these sleek gadgets ever truly replace the humble paperback?

Of course one of the obvious beauties of owning a Kindle is the advantage of having all your books in one place, together. Great for saving on space, especially when you're off on holiday with an unforgiving baggage allowance. But then again, how often do you get through the 2 books you pack for your hols?

A major part of the joy of reading for me is the careful selection of your next read. Whether you browse the shelves in Waterstones or check out the charts on Amazon, purchasing and holding that brand new, clean book in your own hands is when the excitement starts to build.

The price of Kindle books is another thing attracting me to this smart little device. For example, the Number 1 book in the Kindle chart at the minute is (hardly surprising) Fifty Shades of Grey, priced at £2.69. In the shops you can expect to pay an RRP of £7.99; a fair price as far as paperbacks go, but somewhat extortionate compared to the e-reader edition.

There is a lot to be said for physically owning something you thoroughly enjoy. I feel the same about music, for example. Like many others nowadays I'm a serial music downloader; it's quick and easy, and can be on my iPod within 10 minutes. But on the rare occasion that I do decide to buy a record, it has to be something special. I think the last CD I purchased was Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto, and unlike many of the other albums that frequent my iTunes, that record doesn't have a single bad song.

Perhaps my favourite part of finishing a great book is telling people how much I've enjoyed it, and forcing my copy on them, like it or not. Nevertheless, the book is usually returned within a week or so, more thumbed and loved than it was before. After that it is either passed on to the next person or displayed proudly on one of my bookshelves; ready for me to return to it in six months, a year, and become lost in it's tatty pages once again.

Clearly the Kindle is a take-anywhere, do-anything kind of gadget, but I'm not sure how I'd feel about laying in the bath with it. And would it be the same to throw it down on the sand next to your beach towel? I think not.

Maybe the Kindle is the perfect gadget for those people to whom a book is simply a story for them to digest, but for me books will always have a much higher value.

Friday, 1 June 2012

June, I've got a really great feeling about you..

Yesterday saw me not only wave goodbye to a disgusting, inconsiderate housemate (by moving out, and FYI, I didn't wave - I didn't say anything; just rejoiced at never having to see her again!) but to the month of May.

As high hopes as I may have had for May, it was largely made up of compromising my social life for day after day of revision. But nevertheless, it seemed to pay off and I finished my exams earlier this week feeling quietly confident of the outcome.

I can tell already June is going to be an amazing month; I mean, not even 12 hours into it did I find myself a part-time job! After a few hours spent this morning trawling the Internet for jobs, and emailing my CV to numerous prospective employers, I received a phone call asking me to come in for an interview an hour later.

Having worked since I was 13, the last 6 months being unemployed have been hard. Well, technically I've not been unemployed; I've been a student, like all my other friends. But still, not having some spare cash to splash out in Primark or organise an impromptu cinema visit, has left me feeling a bit down.

Anyway, they offered me the job and asked me to start tonight! I'm so excited to be working again - there's only so many lie ins and lazy days that a girl can take! Now, it's only a bar job, but that is my favourite type of work. I just love everything about it; it's something that I feel comes naturally to me, just chatting away to people - probably a good thing considering I'm studying for a degree in journalism!

Aside from saying au revoir to unemployment and the life of a lazy student, June holds many other gems for me to look forward to. Namely a camping trip to Paris with mon pere (see what I did there?!) which I can't wait for! Paris has to be one of my favourite places on Earth.

I'm also looking forward to many more BBQs and nights out, now that I don't have to shun my friends and family for revision purposes! Oh, and I'll be working away at that challenge I set myself in my previous post.. I've already done 3 classes which I need to post about!

Ciao for now.. Or should that be à bientôt!