Mount Kenya

Mount Kenya is the first mountain I ever trekked (though it won’t be the last!) and so will always have a special place in my heart. Although an exhausting experience, it’s one I’m so glad that I took part in for a multitude of different reasons.

Title image of Mount Kenya

Mount Kenya, quite obviously, is situated in Kenya, with a total height of 5199m. The trek I did was part of a school trip I lead to the country in August 2018, so we were accompanied up the mountain by Camps International and Rift Valley Adventures. The support we received from both was excellent, so I’m sure there’ll be a couple of more in-depth posts about what each organisation offers!

Mount Kenya actually has three summit goals because the highest summit, the Batian Peak, is only accessible via climbing ropes. As we were a school trip of mostly inexperienced trekkers this wasn’t viable, so our goal was to reach the third summit, Point Lenana, which is 4985m above sea level. Prior to getting there we’d planned our route and gone over the safety aspects of the trek – there’s actually loads of different routes you can do, each offering something slightly different. To complete the trek you’ll need all the usual trekking safety gear, and as the final part of the trek is done in darkness equipment such as head torches is vital. It’s also important to remember that whilst Kenya has a hot climate, Mount Kenya is absolutely freezing as you go up, so appropriate clothing is essential.

Cactus plants on Mount Kenya
One example of the interesting native plants in the area – many of these we walked past were fluffy

One think I have to say is that Mount Kenya is absolutely stunning, with incredible views and amazing wildlife. There were many times where we just stopped and took in our surroundings, from miles of cactus-littered valleys to steep rocky ascents masked by rolling cloud. I’m still not over the scenery!

On the first day we trekked up to Old Moses Camp which was a fairly easy walk, considering – mostly surfaced road at a steady incline. Rift Valley Adventures hire local porters to assist with bags and equipment, so by paying our allocated porter a $50 tip (on top of their wage for their job) we were able carry just our day bags and have less to worry about. The porters were really friendly and I got speaking to some of them who told me about how they would often do the entire mountain in just 11 hours!

I’d say the first day is the least exciting of the trek due to it being a road, however it is surrounded by large trees and it’s possible to see some interesting wildlife. We got to witness a whole community of baboons (including babies) on our way up, and even though we didn’t see any elephants, the evidence of their tusks scraped against the soil overhangs was there to see. When we arrived at the first camp we had a little bit of time before dark so got to explore the surrounding hills and views, and then the rest of the time was focused on getting fed and falling asleep (sadly this didn’t happen too quickly due to loud trekkers nearby, but we got enough sleep to get by).

The second day was the most difficult one as we had to cover around 14km and the terrain only kept getting harsher. For the extra effort we were rewarded with amazing vistas and beautiful stop points such as many clear streams where we were able to collect water. The moment that will always stand out to me was the hardest bit – we were starting to flag as the altitude effects became apparent and a thick, heavy cloud rolled in from nowhere, obscuring our views ahead. I remember walking up that incline being able to see nothing but fog, and it felt endless. At times it felt futile, but Camps International and Rift Valley kept us motivated and made sure we were looking after ourselves.

The goal at the end of the second day was to reach Shipton’s Camp, which is 4200m above sea level and situated in the most beautiful basin – surrounded by rocky peaks (some of which were coated in snow when we got there). The place is a good test of whether it’s viable to continue, as if you feel unwell there then you’re unlikely to get any better unless you go back down. We camped at the place but they also offer hostel beds, plus a large dining area where basic yet highly needed food is served. It was here I learnt about arrowroot, a starchy vegetable that’s not particularly flavoursome but is perfect for giving you the energy you need up in the mountains. You might not enjoy it but I recommend eating it when up there, and taking advantage of the sweet teas that are on offer to shake off the mountain side effects.

Shiptons Camp sign high up on Mount Kenya
Shiptons Camp – I’ve never been so glad to see a sign in my life!

The third day we did a practice trek around the area to get used to the altitude, and then the final part of the ascent took place very early the next morning, starting at around 2am. The goal is to reach Pt. Lenana just before sunrise so you can witness the sun appearing over the horizon from atop the mountain. I’ll admit that I was terrified at this point – it was pitch black, the ground was purely scree with only a few large rocks to hold onto, and the altitude was causing my lungs to feel like they were being repeatedly stabbed with a large nail. We kept as a tight group and the Rift Valley team were there immediately when support was needed.

I’d love to be able to tell you firsthand how beautiful it was once we reached the summit, however sadly I only have photos from the rest of the team as I wasn’t able to quite make it up there! About 100m from the end a couple of our students fell sick and could no further, so I accompanied them down with one of the porters. I was gutted to not be able to reach the top, but grateful of how Rift Valley dealt with the situation. We descended the mountain via a different route as it was much quicker to get back down… Mainly because you slid! The porter took our hands and helped us to run down the scree and a strange sort of gravelly landslide – it was a truly bizarre experience with giant rocks passing us as we descended but it was here where I learnt the most about mountain trekking and gained a confidence that I hadn’t been able to reach so far. That porter alone helped me to lose my nervous steps and shaky hands, and I finally felt comfortable. Our alternative route took us past a serene mountain lake and we were also still able to see the sunrise… I can confirm that it was a beautiful sight that made all the pains of the trek worth it.

After some rest it was time to make our way back down to the entrance – this part was a bit of a blur really as all we wanted to do was get back to the van. We were knackered from trekking, ill from altitude, and sweaty from not being able to change our clothes for so long. But getting back to the entrance meant it didn’t matter, as we’d done it! I’ve never felt such achievement for something, and looking back I still can’t quite believe that I, the fragile and clumsy girl with no physical ability whatsoever, managed to do it.

Our final photo after descending Mount Kenya, taken by the sign at the entrance of the national park
We did it! Four days of my life I’ll never forget

The whole experience, though tough, was incredible and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I have to anyway, as I’ve got to reach that summit! Both Camps and Rift Valley were amazing with the support they offered, and I was truly struck by the porters who I would certainly use again. Given that it was my first mountain (I haven’t even done any British ones!) I’d recommend Mount Kenya as a brilliant international mountain to trek for beginners who want a challenge, and would thoroughly recommend having Rift Valley Adventures by your side for it.

If you enjoyed this article or have also experienced Mt. Kenya then please don’t forget to like, pin, and leave a comment! You can check out my review of another brilliant location in Kenya, Diani Beach, here:

Diani Beach, Kenya

(All photos taken by Adam Smith and Tim Wright as I dropped my phone on the second day!)

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Camp NaNoWriMo Progress Update – Week Two

We’re now halfway through Camp NaNoWriMo 2019 – it’s going so quickly! Here’s my progress so far.

Camp NaNoWriMo Week 2 Progress Update Books Title Image

My novel & goals

Title: Written In The Stars

Genre: Romance/women’s fiction

Synopsis: After discovering her fiancé (and love of her life) has been having an affair, Vicky Murton decides it’s time to give up the dating game. It’s now official – men are all useless and not worth her time. Besides, it’s much easier to live a happy life when someone else isn’t there to spoil it, right?
That’s the plan, but then Vicky’s astrologically-inclined friend, Felly, gets involved. She reckons it’s not that all men are unreliable – it’s just that Vicky has bad taste. If she would just listen to her inner psychic, then Felly reckons that Vicky will meet the man of her dreams.
With Felly in charge of her love life now, Vicky has a whole host of different experiences to look forward to (or not). But will Felly’s zodiac-based predictions ring true? Or is it really down to Vicky to find the right man?

Camp NaNo goal: Revise 50 pages of first draft

My progress so far

Like last week it’s been a really busy week this week, so I’ve found it quite hard to fit the time in! My goal this week was to get to 25 pages and I nearly hit, however was slightly off as I only reached 21. I’m still proud of what I did, but it isn’t quite enough for me to feel really happy with. I did manage to get one chapter, focused around tarot readings, proofread by someone with way more expertise than me in that area and it came back with nothing that needed changing, so I was happy with that at least!

My favourite excerpt from this week

Sitting on my own in the coffee shop (not the one from the Unfortunate Event), I realised something. Everyone around me was either with someone else and happy with them, or on their own but furiously busy. Opposite me was a young couple, cuddling together on the sofa and laughing as they shared their hot chocolate cream with a spoon. Behind them was an older couple, married, who were planning a holiday together, and discussing the small things of life.

The lonesome people also seemed happy. One was typing away at his laptop, oblivious to the world. Another one, situated in the corner, was cosied up and completely engrossed in a hardback. A third woman was with her small children, talking to them about what they were all going to do together when Daddy came home tonight.

And then there was me – sitting on my own in the middle of the room, with nothing to do but twiddle my thumbs while I waited nervously to meet with a man who no longer loved me.

What i’ve learnt & focus for next week

This week I’ve definitely learnt something about myself – I don’t push myself enough when I have the chance. For example, I have found times to edit and I’ve done a couple of chapters, but why not more than that? Once I’m into it I could probably revise for ages instead of doing a bit then moving onto the next task, so I guess the real goal for next week (which should take me to 38 pages, where I should be at by next Sunday) is to make some time to sit down for a good half an hour to an hour and get loads done. I can do it with everything else, so why not editing?

How is your Camp NaNo project coming along? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like this post if you enjoyed reading it!

Book Of Panacea – Tineke Peeters

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase the product using the link then I get paid at no extra cost to you. I only provide links to products I really enjoy, so you can be assured that it’s a positive recommendation from me!

Title image of Book of Panacea by Tineke Peeters

Author: Tineke Peeters
Genre: Young adult/fantasy
Published: February 2019

Earth is on fire – the sun shines bright, yet it hasn’t stopped for several days now, and it’s all because Apollo is missing. Only after the Earth succumbs to its fate do some of the gods realise what has happened, but by then it’s too late. A couple of generations later Panacea, Apollo’s granddaughter, must fight to stay invisible from the rest of the gods, yet complete her training as a goddess and discover her true powers (whilst also preventing the mischievous Hades from getting his own way). With only a handful of family and friends to support her, will she manage to keep everything in line?

Young adult is a fairly new genre for me – although I sometimes read it has a teenager I tended to gravitate towards adult novels as they were more accessible for me, and I haven’t really read much YA since. It was nice to delve back into it with Book of Panacea though, especially with the Greek gods slant to the story.

Tineke Peeters has a fascinating imagination as an author and I absolutely loved the concept of the story – I already have an interest in the Greek gods, but the initial premise of them accidentally destroying Earth was what drew me in. I felt this was a really original idea and it worked well, and paved the way for an interesting plot that contained lots of twists and turns. The topic is archaic but Peeters comes at it from a very modern angle, with gods and goddesses that wear everyday clothing and speak very much like we do. I felt this made the characters relatable and put a different spin on them than the usual one we’re so often presented with.

Cover image of Book of Panacea by Tineke Peeters
Cover image of Book of Panacea by Tineke Peeters

The character development was what I liked most about the book – each character was interesting with their own quirks, and the chemistry between characters was really focused on. Panacea is a relatable main character for a young teenager, struggling not only with goddess issues but also many things normal teenagers struggle with as they hit puberty. Hades was also interestingly written, as was Panacea’s trusted group of friends and family. My favourite character of course was Apple, a sort of baby Cerberus dog, who was really brought to life throughout and had so much personality from the very beginning.

I wasn’t so much of a fan of the writing style – not being well-versed in YA, it was very different to the style I usually go for in the women’s fiction and psychological thrillers I’m often drawn to. I felt the editing could have tighter, but generally the writing style was easy to read and very dialogue-focused, which I would say suits the tween age range the best. It’s a good length – not too long, but long enough to add depth to the story. There’s nothing particularly graphic involved but there are multiple instances of swearing – these are mostly mild, but it’s good to take note of if you are considering buying this book for a younger person.

Book Of Panacea deals with multiple themes from discovering oneself, growing up, and falling in love for the first time. These are all themes I wished I’d read more about in secondary school as all three of them were relevant to my teenage years, and the book takes them all seriously. Book Of Panacea will interest those into fantasy and the Greek gods most of all, and is also worth considering for any tweens/teenagers struggling with any of the themes mentioned above. An enjoyable read that’s one to check out!

If you’d like to purchase Book Of Panacea then you can do so here:

Kindle or Paperback version

Thank you to Tineke Peeters for allowing me to receive a digital copy of Book Of Panacea for review. If you enjoyed my review or have your own comments about the book then please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and pin!

You can also check my other recent book reviews here:

Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery

RISE – In Pursuit Of Empowerment

The Clouds Beyond Us

Blogger Recognition Award

So I’ve been nominated for another blogger award, which is exciting! This time round it’s the Blogger Recognition Award.

The Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and give a link to their blog, so your readers can check out their posts
  2. Write a post about the award and upload it on your blog (to display that you already received it and to remind yourself what you already achieved of course)
  3. Describe how you started your blog
  4. Give some advice to new bloggers (preferably two pieces)
  5. Nominate 15 other bloggers that you deem worthy of this award
  6. Notify your nominees and provide them with a link to your blog post

My Nominees

I’ve been nominated twice for this award so I’d like to thank Home Of Understanding and Emily Eva for both of their nominations, which really means a lot! Nadine, the writer behind Home Of Understanding, writes some amazing posts on mental health which are well worth a read. Emily Eva is another great blog filled with lifestyle and travel articles, as well as very useful tips on blogging! I’m proud to have been nominated by such wonderful bloggers, and I encourage all of my readers to check them out.

How I Started My Blog

As you most likely know already I’m a very new blogger, having only started a couple of months ago in February. Like most of my ideas, it came about as a niggling feeling and ended up a full blown obsession until I got it started! What inspired me to start writing was realising just how much I love writing reviews (I also review films and games for CEX). I adore writing, and it’s great to be able to help and inspire others when it comes to choosing their next book to read, food to try, or place to visit. It was difficult to narrow my blog down to one topic so I ended up going for several, but I love the variety I get to write about and it’s inspired me to go out and do more in the world!

Advice for New Bloggers

One piece of advice I want to give, which translates into lots of other things, is to not get wrapped up in the numbers and the stats when blogging. Numerical targets are great and being able to track your stats is brilliant, but they’re not the be all and end all. I’ve always believed that if you do your best then the numbers will come naturally, and this is something that I follow not only with blogging but also in my day job, where targets are important but the ground work is even more so. If you’re writing about your passion, engaging with your followers, refining your SEO, and doing all those other things relevant to blogging then your numbers will go up.

The other advice I have is to get out of your comfort zone! Before starting blogging I didn’t realise just how supportive the blogging community is, and there are so many opportunities out there for you to grab. Get in touch with companies, reach out to guest post for others, and get involved with as many things as you can (without taking on too much, of course!). Don’t feel like a fraud doing all this when you’ve just started, either – you’re a blogger, and how long you’ve been blogging is irrelevant. Go put yourself out there!

My Nominations

Here are 12 bloggers I want to nominate for writing fantastic blogs and being an inspiration to all of us:

  1. Little Tinkablee – a fantastic blog covering loads of different topics from mental health to book reviews to lifestyle
  2. The Sacred Space – the place you need to go for self-care and personal development advice!
  3. My Bookish Blog – amazing review website of all things book-related
  4. Nyxie’s Nook – eating disorder recovery blog that’s really taught me a lot
  5. What’s In My Wonderland? – another great book review blog
  6. Jenny In Neverland – a really inspiring blog, and Jenny has helped me so much with the blogging process!
  7. Your Travel Handbook – so much useful travel advice and inspiration
  8. Love Me Treat Me – really useful posts on self-care and happiness
  9. Popular Is Wrong – beautiful poetry and real thoughts
  10. Treat Yo Brain – a truly inspiring mental health advocate
  11. BritVoyage – travel articles that have really reminded me why I love Britain (which I think we all need right now!)
  12. Coffee And Corfu – travel posts that really get the wanderlust going!

Please make sure to check out all of these wonderful people!

Three Cliffs Bay, Wales

Wales holds a special place in my heart, as it was there that I visited at least once a year on holiday with my Aunt, who lived in a beautiful corner of Swansea known as Sandy Lane. Sadly she’s passed away now and I don’t get to visit so much, but Three Cliffs Bay is one beach that you absolutely must check out if you ever go to the South of Wales.

Title image of Three Cliffs Bay in Swansea, Wales

Three Cliffs Bay, my favourite British beach, is named after three prominent cliffs situated in a row that can be seen from quite some distance away. It’s in Pennard, Swansea, and I believe its unparalleled beauty is partly down to how much people have just left it alone.

The three cliffs of Three Cliffs Bay in Swansea, Wales, with a purple flower in the foreground
The three cliffs at high tide

What I love about Three Cliffs Bay is that it’s so secluded – it’s private in that you can’t drive there, and so have to undertake a fairly lengthy walk to get there. You can access it from several routes but all must be undertaken on foot, which I’ve always found to be part of the experience. The route we’d always take as children was over the golf course and then along the multitude of sandy footpaths on the top of the cliffs, which offer breathtaking scenery and lots of fun along the way – the ruins of Pennard Castle, giant sand slides, and a river to dip your toes in, to name a few. The most fun way to access the beach is to run down the cliff via a particularly large sand slide and then follow the river through the marshes until you eventually reach the sandy beaches.

The view of the river and the bay from the top of the sand slide by the Norman castle - Three Cliffs Bay, Swansea, Wales
The view of the river from atop the sandslide – a beautiful walk offering scenery you’ll fall in love with

Because the beach is so secluded it’s largely been left untouched – there are no buildings such as shops or cafés, and you won’t find any public toilets either. Some might find this an inconvenience and it does make it less accessible that other local beaches, but for those of us that want to experience something truly natural it makes the place perfect. The sea is wonderful to swim in, often with great waves for water sports, and you can spend your time exploring the caves or sunning on the beach. The wildlife is amazing too – I’ve come across hundreds of starfish when I visited in the spring, and there’s plenty of curious creatures such as anemones and small fish in the rock pools. It’s also a known rock-climbing spot so you’ll often see people scaling the cliffs.

Like many other British beaches the tide is certainly something to be aware of, and it’s good to plan your trip before you go to avoid finding yourself cut off by the river bed (which fills very quickly and gets rather deep). It’s beautiful when it does come in as there’s a lot more space to swim, though be prepared to do some wading to get to the beach! When the tide is out the beach is a lot more accessible, and you can even explore left to get to Pobbles Beach (another absolutely stunning location with plenty of rock pools and caves for the kids) or right to find a whole other collection of wonderful bays leading all the way up to Oxwich Bay. Safety is so important here though, so again make sure you check the tides beforehand!

A hidden bay near Three Cliffs Bay, Swansea, Wales
One of the many hidden bays you can access when the tide is out (we got the tide mixed up on this trip and had to climb the cliff face to avoid getting stuck – don’t do this, please!)

I’ve spent more days than I can count at Three Cliffs Bay, but each time I walk to the castle and encounter that gorgeous view of the river in the valley leading to the sea I just can’t help but feel completely in awe. There’s something so magical about the place – it’s one of those beaches that you can spend an entire day at away from civilisation, and feel absolutely refreshed and enlightened after doing so. I’ve got so many memories of the place, from having barbeques on the beach as kids to even swimming in the river alongside the cows (it’s Wales, don’t ask!) and if you visit I can guarantee you’ll never forget your time there.

The tide coming in at Three Cliffs Bay, Swansea, Wales
The beach looks a lot different when the tide comes in, but it’s still so beautiful!

Have you visited the stunning Three Cliffs Bay before? Leave a comment if you liked my review, and don’t forget to like and pin! You can check out my review for another (wildly different) UK beach I love here:

Southsea, Portsmouth

Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery – Jenny Colgan

***This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase the product using the link then I get paid at no extra cost to you. I only provide links to products I really enjoy, so you can be assured that it’s a positive recommendation from me!***

Title image for review of Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Author: Jenny Colgan
Genre: Romance/women’s fiction
Published: October 2016

I’m a big fan of women’s fiction and chick lit but somehow Jenny Colgan managed to pass me by (and I’m still not sure how!). This is the first book I’ve read by her, which I encountered in one of our local train station library shelves, and I’m certain it won’t be the last!

Polly Waterford lives on a beautiful island in Cornwall called Mount Polbearne, where she resides with her fiancée, Huckle, and their adopted pet puffin, Neil, in a converted lighthouse by the sea. Her passion is baking, and she works all year round at Little Beach Street Bakery to provide the best baked goods in the area. Her life is busy but she loves it (her career is her biggest focus) and all seems to be going swimmingly until best friend Kerensa suddenly drops a bombshell on her… One which could affect Polly’s friendship group, relationship with Huckle, and more. Despite her hectic schedule she needs to support Kerensa with facing up to a potentially devastating situation whilst also keeping her business and relationship happy, and all in the run-up to Christmas.

Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery is actually the third in the series by Jenny Colgan which revolve around Polly and Huckle, however is easily read as a standalone novel due to very good explanations of character and backstory. I hadn’t read either previous novels before this one but will definitely be going back to them now. Colgan has a beautifully cosy writing style which I just love – so easy-going, even when topics get a little difficult, and she strikes the perfect balance between light-hearted humour and more serious emotional issues.

Cover image for Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
Cover image for Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery

I found the plot to be surprisingly emotionally engaging, with some interesting sub-plots as well. Without giving away any spoilers the main plot deals with a difficult moral topic and whilst some readers may not enjoy how it’s dealt with it, it gives several viewpoints into how something like that can be approached. Colgan has done really well at portraying an ethical battle with oneself in a genre that sometime’s (wrongly) considered too fluffy or trivial, so I appreciated that she’s written such a plot despite feeling like I would have dealt with it differently.

I think what really makes Colgan’s writing is how much she brings her characters and settings to life – it’s obvious from her descriptions that she has a strong understanding and a passion for Cornwall! Polly is such a wonderful main character to follow and I felt that she’s highly relatable; so many of us nowadays struggle with work-life balance and also sometimes communication with others. Other themes she explores are moving forwards, loyalty to others, and fear of commitment – again, relatable and engaging topics that many of us will know from experience.

All of the characters in the book felt well-developed despite me not reading the previous two books, and I came away from reading feeling like I’d made a huge group of friends. Huckle was wonderful, and seeing things through Kerensa’s and her husband Reuben’s eyes was fascinating. I felt connected to many of the characters… Even those that had just stopped into the bakery for a few times and weren’t featured any more than that. I also loved the addition of Neil the puffin – such a cute idea for a character and with a purpose to the story, rather than just there because the author thought it would be fun. Sometimes too many characters can spoil the story, so to speak, yet this certainly isn’t the case here.

It’s probably fairly obvious what my verdict on Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery is – I don’t even like Christmas all that much and yet there I was enjoying a novel about it! This is a wholehearted “go out and read this book now!” from me, and reading it has inspired me to move onto the many other Jenny Colgan books. She also includes recipes for tasty treats in the back of each book, so there’s really no reason not to give this one a read!

If you’d like to purchase Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery or any of the previous books in the Little Beach Street Bakery collection then you can do so here:

Little Beach Street Bakery

Summer At Little Beach Street Bakery

Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery

If you enjoyed my review or have your own comments about the book then please let me know in the comments! You can also check my other recent book reviews for the women’s fiction genre here:

The Summer Of Chasing Dreams – Holly Martin

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Camp NaNoWriMo Progress Update – Week One

As many of you know I’ve been taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo this month – I know it’s not massively relevant to my usual content but thought I’d share my progress so far as so many of my readers also happen to be writers!

Books title image for Camp Nanowrimo progress

My novel & goals

Title: Written In The Stars

Genre: Romance/women’s fiction

Synopsis: After discovering her fiancé (and love of her life) has been having an affair, Vicky Murton decides it’s time to give up the dating game. It’s now official – men are all useless and not worth her time. Besides, it’s much easier to live a happy life when someone else isn’t there to spoil it, right?
That’s the plan, but then Vicky’s astrologically-inclined friend, Felly, gets involved. She reckons it’s not that all men are unreliable – it’s just that Vicky has bad taste. If she would just listen to her inner psychic, then Felly reckons that Vicky will meet the man of her dreams.
With Felly in charge of her love life now, Vicky has a whole host of different experiences to look forward to (or not). But will Felly’s zodiac-based predictions ring true? Or is it really down to Vicky to find the right man?

Camp NaNo goal: Revise 50 pages of first draft

My progress so far

This week I’ve had quite a busy week with lots of ill health so unfortunately editing hasn’t been super high on my list of priorities. I’ve managed to make a start though, and have edited eleven A4 pages so far, which amounts to the first four chapters. I’ve found it easier than I thought – I originally wrote this novel in November 2016 and each time I’ve gone back to it I’ve felt it was too familiar to revise. Now feels like the right time though, and I’m actually enjoying the revision process!

My favourite excerpt from this week

I’d only just hauled the finished desk into Jay’s study (why didn’t I just build it in there in the first place?!), when I heard the familiar sound of his keys in the door. And then another one of his keys, for a second go. And then a third. Which was unlike him, as it was usually me to get my keys mixed up.
The door opened on the fourth try. It was a slow opening, like a thief making sure he wasn’t heard. Except it clearly wasn’t, because a thief wouldn’t have a key, and even if he did, would almost certainly not have made as much noise beforehand.
Excited to show him the desk, I slid down the staircase, ready to surprise him. I pictured his face, lighting up as he realised the newfound potential for working at home. Holding me close to him, finally seeing that my talent had worth. And then we could catch up on his fishing trip, be it over a glass of wine, or under the sheets.
Except that didn’t happen. When his face turned around to look at me, it was straight and bland. He looked me in the eye and said the one phrase that everyone dreads.
“Vee…We really need to talk.”

What i’ve learnt & focus for next week

The main thing I’ve learnt this week is that revising a novel sounds daunting but isn’t as difficult as you think it’s going to be if you do it in small sections. I’m taking quite a light, casual approach which is working much better than when I have previously dived headfirst into it with too many pressures. I’ve also re-learnt that it’s okay to take it slow, as there’s plenty of time to hit my goal.

Now I’m feeling a bit better and got other parts of my life organised again I want to achieve a little bit more this week, so to catch up with my progress I’m aiming for 25 pages by next Sunday. I’ll check in again next week to let you know how it went!

How is your Camp NaNo project coming along? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like this post if you enjoyed reading it!

Seven Things I Like In A Book (Book Tag)

Last week I was tagged by My Bookish Blog to write about several things I like in a book which is such a great idea for a post! Sometimes I forget about why it is I’m so passionate about reading, so it’s nice to remind myself of those things that really make me smile when I’m enjoying a good book. I found it hard to narrow it down to seven but here goes!

Strong character development

Character development is so important to me because I need to care about the characters to want to read the book. I don’t just want to know about what’s happening in the present plot though – I want to know the history of the character, why they are the way they are, their likes and dislikes, their quirks. I want to feel like I know them as a person, rather than just witnessing them complete a journey.

Atonement and On Chesil Beach - books by Ian McEwan
Ian McEwan is one of my favourite authors – I haven’t yet found a book by him I didn’t enjoy

Unreliable narrator

Unreliable narrators are definitely a Marmite device within storytelling but for me I absolutely love them (when done well). Ian McEwan never fails to entertain me with his knack for writing them, and I’ve read many a novel where I’ve been well and truly duped by the main character. It fascinates me that a well-written unreliable narrator can completely throw you and lead you off the scent, yet if you read it back again it just seems so obvious. I find it all very clever, and it’s something I’d love to perfect as a writer as well.

Multiple perspectives

I absolutely love books that show the story from multiple perspective as it adds a curious dynamic to the plot and broadens the story for the reader. I love seeing things evolve through different eyes and eventually catch up with one another – it can be frustrating to know what’s stopping a character without themselves knowing, but it’s an interesting tool that helps get the reader completely absorbed in the story. I don’t like too many perspectives because I get confused, but a few just makes it that little bit more interesting.

A selection of books with great literary devices within them
A selection of books that contain multiple examples of my favourite book feaures

Unusual plot structure

The standard plot structure that’s used within many stories is a very good thing, but sometimes I appreciate a book that deviates from it bit, whether it be telling the plot in a different order or going full blown literary fiction and not including a plot at all! I love stories that come from the mind of the character, where not much happens physically, but mentally so much is explored. For this reason I love books that explore mental health and the more philosophical concepts.

Short chapters

I hate to admit it but I’m one of those people that struggles with long, uninterrupted pieces of text… I even struggle to write them because I get distracted so easily! I like chapters to be short and to the point, which not only makes it easier to read but also allows me to dip in and out of the book much more conveniently. I have this thing where I hate ending my reading sesh halfway through a chapter so shorter ones are especially useful during my commute or when I get a quick 10 minute break to read.

Engaging subplots

I’ve already spoken about plot but I find subplots so important as well. I’ve read books before that don’t really have subplots and to me they just feel so flat. Having a couple of interesting subplots not only adds to the main plot but also contributes to better character development which, as I’ve mentioned, is key to getting me hooked.

Two books by Jenny Colgan
Buying a Jenny Colgan book means you get a mini recipe book for free!

Extras!

I’ve always appreciated those authors that go a little bit further with their novels, adding extra things besides the story to entertain the reader. I’ve been reading books by Jenny Colgan recently and I love how she adds recipes at the end of her novels! I also love fantasy novels filled with lore and maps, and pictures included in fiction books – these sorts of things flesh out a world and give yet another medium that the reader can use to delve deeper into the story.

There are so many other things that I love seeing in books, but I’d say these have to be my top seven. I’d also like to tag the following bloggers to write one of these posts as well…. I’m looking forward to comparing our lists! I’d also totally recommend you follow them as I really love their blogs!

The Art And Science Of Worldbuilding

Little Tinkablee Blog

What’s In My Wonderland?

The Caffeinated Reader

The Tattooed Book Geek

What sorts of things do you look out for in a book? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and pin this post if you enjoyed it!

Oasis Dunas

Fuerteventura is a hot tourist destination with loads of great accommodation options, whatever you are looking for. I recently stayed at Oasis Dunas in Corralejo for the first time – here’s what I thought!

Pool at Oasis Dunas in Corralejo, Fuerteventura
(Title image from Tui)

If you’ve ever been holiday hunting online in Corralejo/Fuerteventura then you’ll most likely have heard of Oasis Dunas already – it’s one of the bigger resorts in the town, and is well known for its affordable prices and vast selection of amenities. It’s very central to Corralejo, located in between the main strip and the water park, which makes it easy to access and great if you want to get out and explore. It’s also right next to the bus stop for Oasis Park so easy to fit a zoo trip in during your holiday!

The outside building of Oasis Dunas, Corralejo, Fuerteventura
The complex from the outside – I loved the succulent/cactus theme (photo from Hotelopia)

Like many others we were initially attracted to Oasis Dunas because of the cost, which really was a good price. Fuerteventura is typically very cheap to get to and holiday in, but accommodation such as Oasis Dunas make it even more affordable. The place offers apartments (either ground floor or first floor) which are basic but do the job, and surrounding these apartments are a variety of different activities to keep you entertained, from several pools (including a saltwater pool – lush!) and a couple of bars to a variety of nightly entertainment.

We were allocated a ground floor apartment near the back of the complex, which was nice as it was so quiet. As we didn’t have the balcony option we had a terrace area instead, where we spent many a morning and evening lounging in front of the sun. We opted for a two bed, one bath apartment as we were visiting with the in-laws, and found it to be spacious enough for all four of us. We generally get out and about as much as possible on holiday so don’t spend too much time at our lodging, but there’s plenty of different spaces to relax should you need some peace and quiet.

The main feature of the complex is the wealth of swimming access, with three large pools that everyone can use. The one we used the most had quite a gradual slope which was nice, ranging from shallow to deep enough that you can’t touch the floor and can swim quite easily. One of the pools contains several big slides which is great for kids, and there’s also a climbing frame a little way away from the pool which adds more fun for children.

The slides in the children's pool at Oasis Dunas, Corralejo, Fuerteventura
The best pool I’ve come across by far for children (photo from Tui)

I enjoyed both of the bars that we visited, my favourite being the one by the pool. There wasn’t quite as much personality as I’ve found in other apartment complexes (we usually get to know the bartenders quite well) but I put this down to it being a much larger resort. We decided to go fully self-catering but there are dining options for those that want less fuss when it comes to dinner, and the place was always packed which must be good! I wasn’t a fan of the nightly entertainment, which ranged from karaoke to on-stage competitions, but then this isn’t really my thing so I’m probably not the best person to comment on it.It was very geared towards children so it was nice at least to see so many kids having fun well into the evening. If you want easy sleep I’d recommend asking for an apartment near the back – we couldn’t really hear it from where we were but I imagine the music would get annoying for those nearer the front!

The pool bar at Oasis Dunas, Corralejo, Fuerteventura
The poolside bar where we spent perhaps too much time! (photo from TripAdvisor)

Generally the place was amicable and we had a good stay there, despite it being different to our usual selection. Housekeeping was done regularly and we never had any issues, and staff were friendly and happy to help. While I wouldn’t recommend it so much for those that want a quiet, adult holiday, Oasis Dunas is the perfect place to take kids and gives you that much needed entertainment for them after a busy day exploring the island.