Since starting this series, I’ve endeavoured to read more widely, to hop out of my crime fiction comfort zone and dip my toes into short stories, memoirs and other unfamiliar genres. I’m willing to give almost any book a punt, but if there are typos, shallow characters or plots that make watching paint dry seem like a more promising proposition, I’m very rarely prepared to give that author a second chance. (I gave one to Jo Nesbo, in the hopes that Blood on Snow was a blip, but sadly Midnight Sun was no better.) I’ve been ever so tempted to abandon a couple of books partway through, but there’s always a niggling voice in the back of my head telling me to just plough on and see if it improves: in for a penny, in for a pound, as the saying goes – or in for a page, in for the whole printed work, as the case may be.
While the North will always have my heart, Cambridge is a rather nice place to call home, for the time being at least. I can’t quite believe how fast time is passing; days, weeks and months have slipped by, punctuated by train rides, café trips and baking sessions. I’ve finally got my bearings, figured out how to dodge the over-eager students pitching punting tours and found a handful of cafés which can be relied upon for a decent hot chocolate and a wedge of cake. Six months have been and gone, and I’ve decided it’s high time for a wee update on life ‘Down South’ . . .
Tomorrow, it’s World Book Day – a day which I looked forward to as much as, if not more than, non-uniform days when I was at primary school. World Book Day brings back memories of childhood favourites such as Francesca Simon’s Horrid Henry, Michael Bond’s Paddington and Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox; of dressing up as a character from a book for the day; and of eagerly exchanging book tokens for exclusive World Book Day books. These days, I’m more likely to be found with my nose in a crime thriller or an autobiography, so in honour of World Book Day, I’ve decided to devote a post to a handful of autobiographies that I’ve enjoyed over the past month or so.
A couple of weeks ago, Mélodie from Tea Bees Trips nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award, an award which is given by bloggers to bloggers who “are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”. Mélodie blogs about tea and travels, and recently shared photos and tales from her trip to Cornwall, an area high on my travel wish list. (I also love the bilingual format of all her posts!) Mille mercis to Mélodie for the nomination, and let’s get cracking with the Q&A . . .
Commuting, in some shape or form, comes hand in hand with employment – be it a brisk walk or cycle ride spent battling the elements, a journey aboard a moving sardine-tin (sorry, I meant the Tube) or a traffic-jam filled drive. If you’re not using one of those modes of transport, chances are high that (like me) you have experienced, are experiencing, or will one day experience the joys of a high-cost (and often highly disappointing) commute aboard one of Britain’s trains. You’ll come across all sorts of people with habits both amusing and irritating, and more often than not a decent sense of humour (and a stereotypically British stiff upper lip) is all that will prevent you from losing the plot. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to these nine characters from my commute . . .
Sometimes, time crawled; mostly, it flew. 2017 is, in the words of The Proclaimers, ‘Over and Done With’ – or rather, it was three days ago, but I’m late to the party with my end-of-year roundup. (I didn’t join the #bestnine2017 Insta-party, but rest assured this post will contain a sufficient number of photos.) 2017 wasn’t without its low moments, but overall I had a darn good year. Life in the Real World (as opposed to Life in the University Bubble) was a steep learning curve, and I learnt a lot of valuable lessons along the way, most of which are summed up in this post. La Grenouille Anglaise has come further than I thought possible, and for that I owe every reader of this blog an enormous thank you.
Commuting can be tedious, but it can also be an opportunity to indulge in your hobbies – and for me, that means ploughing through as many books as I can whilst shuttling between Cambridge and London King’s Cross. I’ve been trying to read a wider variety of books this year – my usual thrillers and crime fiction, alongside biographies, chick lit, historical fiction, short stories, fantasy, classics and romance novels. I set out with the aim of reading fifty-odd books; I’ve read almost double that. (It’s a good job Cambridge Central Library is so well stocked.) If, like yours truly, you’re a huge fan of The Apprentice and are already mourning the end of another series, I urge you to grab a copy of Unscripted and a cuppa, ready to relive a decade’s worth of cock-ups, gaffes and blunders. Here are my top picks from this quarter, in no particular order . . .