Healthy Snacks from itsu and Metcalfe's

Monday, 31 August 2015

I like to snack, a lot. From carrot sticks to carrot cake, I'm all for a mid-afternoon pick me up. Lately, my treats have tended to be on the unhealthy side (cake, cake, cake). I've been making a conscious effort to munch on healthier snacks. These offerings from itsu and Metcalfe's are a brilliant addition to my daily banana milkshakes.

Healthy Snacks from itsu and Metcalfes Healthy Snacks from itsu and Metcalfes

Itsu is known for it's flavours from the Far East and these are incorporated into their snack selection. Whilst the Crispy Seaweed Thins may not be to my personal taste, I can't get enough of the Honey Cashews. Their rice cakes are an amazing alternative to a chocolate digestive - although I don't drink tea, so can't comment on their dunking performance! I have to say that the Honey Bee Skinny Popcorn was my absolute favourite. Each piece tastes exactly like honey on toast so I have a feeling it would definitely be Winnie-the-Pooh's fave too!

I'm really excited that there are healthier snacks with a difference available on the highstreet. Picking up snacks or a light bite are usually where I slip up when I'm out. Now I know that there's no reason whatsoever for that Biscuit and Raisin Yorkie to fall into my hands!

itsu kindly sent me the above snacks to review for this post.

Alice in Wonderland at South Hill Park

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Alice in Wonderland is 150 years old this year. Generations of children, myself included, have been enchanted by the White Rabbit and his whimsical friends from Wonderland. To celebrate the book's birthday a host of events have been planned and special souvenirs have been released - from limited edition stamps to Vivienne Westwood designing the cover and end papers of a new edition of the book. I jumped at the chance of taking part in an event commemorating the occasion and joined in the Caucus Race and had tea with the Hatter at my local arts center, South Hill Park.

Alice in Wonderland 150th Birthday Celebrations

The production was as imaginative as Alice is. As part of the audience I followed Alice through the former country house's gardens, meeting new characters at every turn. The children in our group were more than happy to interact with the characters and my boyfriend was even called upon by the Duchess to stir the mixture for her jam tarts! We all sat down to tea with with the Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse before meeting the Red Queen during the finale of the performance.

I really enjoyed spending the afternoon doing something different and I came away in a dream like haze! The whole concept and interactivity made a thoroughly enjoyable experience - I was wishing my boyfriend's niece was a few years older as she would have loved it too!

I'm really glad I took part in celebrating such a memorable piece of children's literature and I'd love to hear if any of you got involved.

South Hill Park kindly sent me a ticket for the production and offered a discount for a guest ticket.

What I Read in July

Thursday, 30 July 2015

July Wrap Up

H IS FOR HAWK by Helen Macdonald ****
I started off the month with Helen Macdonald's much hyped autobiography. The book tells of how she deals with the loss of her father by training a goshawk. This is written so beautifully and I found myself getting lost in Macdonald's prose. There is an other-worldliness surrounding Mabel the goshawk that is truly enchanting. The structure is somewhat unconventional and is a mix of biography, autobiography and academic writing. There are a lot of references to various falconry books and in particular to The Once and Future King by T H White. I found the links between Macdonald herself and T H White extremely interesting. However, I can imagine that this book isn't for everyone. It's almost as if the only way Macdonald can try and understand her grief is to write this book.

ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell **
I've not read much YA fiction before and my teenage years are filled with LOTS of cringe worthy memories. I kind of had an inkling that I wouldn't like Eleanor and Park, but I really wanted to. I did like the first half of the novel and really enjoyed the scenes where the couple get to know each other. The second half seemed to completely spiral out of control. I found the ending was rushed and utterly unbelievable. Another thing that stood out was the constant references to Eleanor's weight. I hate that the negative remarks reinforced the idea that teenage girls are supposed to despise their own bodies. I felt this was unnecessary and it just added to my negative feeling towards the book.

What I Read in July

TELL IT TO A STRANGER by Elizabeth Berridge ****
This was my first charity shop find of the month. To be quite honest, I only picked this up because it was the first book published by Persephone that I had the chance to own. The end papers have a really lovely geometric pattern and I knew it had to come home with me. The book itself is a collection of short stories. They are all set during the Second World War and focus on people's experience of the war at home. Berridge focuses on class and gender and the shift in roles that occurred during this time. Each story is beautifully written and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS by John Wyndham ***
I decided to read this after hearing how much Jean from Jean's Bookish Thoughts liked this. I do really like early 20th century dystopian and apocalyptic literature and I had high hopes for this short novel. However, after every page I found myself hoping for something gripping or disastrous to happen. There's an element of sexism that I really didn't like and overall I just felt disappointed.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North Richard Flanagan

MISS BRILL by Katherine Mansfield****
I've wanted to read some of Katherine Mansfield's work for a while now. I thought this Penguin Little Black Classic would be the perfect introduction and it really was. Miss Brill includes three short stories that are impeccably written. As a reader you get to know the characters so well in such a short space of time. This was such a delight to read and I'll definitely be reading more Mansfield in the future.

THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH by Richard Flanagan****
This novel follows Australian doctor Dorrigo Evans from childhood, to the building of the Burma death railway and into old age. The treatment of the POWs building the railway by the Japanese officials is not a nice thing to read about. However, I found these sections the most interesting to the point where I resented having to read the other sections of the novel. I thought the chapters were fragmented and jumped around a lot, making my overall reading experience not an enjoyable one. Despite this, I've given it four stars. It's a book that will stay in my memory for a while and the story of the POW camps is one that needs telling.