A Sit Down and a Cuppa, Part 1

I’ve got half an hour to kill before I have to head for work – I’ve just had my nails redone after my original ones disintegrated last night (bad batch of gel polish, by the looks of things – pure bad luck and the lady who does my nails was an absolute sweetheart) and it’s time to sit in a coffee shop for a brief sneeze of time. I’ve got myself a cup of tea with a slightly odd flavour to it – I have a horrible feeling I’ve actually ordered oat milk instead of proper milk. It’s not unpleasant. It’s not entirely pleasant either.

Why not have a little rambly ramble while I’m here?


A cup of tea, in a Starbucks cup, with a Christmas sleeve, at Caffè Nero. Yeah, OK.

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Goodreads Challenge: 2018’s Best And Worse

Last year, I declared myself done with new year’s resolutions. I’m not the kind of person who vows to exercise more, or eat better, or go on any kind of spiritual journey.

Just like life, all I want to do is read.

So I set myself up with a Goodreads challenge, with a modest goal of reading fifty new books in 2018. I knew full well I read far more than that in a year… but the problem was, I’m a chronic rereader. Case in point: I can probably do a one-woman performance of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, at least the first half of it. I find something that I love and I read it over and over and over again. I also wanted to read a bit more non-fiction; it felt a bit like my brain was being neglected and was slowly but surely turning into a puddle of mush sloshing around inside my skull.

A puddle of mush that could recite the opening paragraphs of I Capture the Castle, at any rate.

I’m pleased to announce that I did complete my challenge; in fact, I surpassed it, with 54 new books read in total. Oh, there was a lot of rereading too, something I might actually try and track this year. The vow to read a bit more non-fiction fell a bit by the wayside: out of 54 books, only 8 were non-fiction. Though, I suppose, that’s probably a step up from the year before.

Let’s have some numbers, while I’m at it. In those 54 books, there were 19.542 pages; the shortest was only 84 pages long (probably a bit of a cheat, that one) and the longest clocked in at 850 pages. I gave an average rating of 4.1 stars, but that doesn’t mean a great deal – even books I didn’t really like, I still ended up giving three stars (I’m a sucker for finding at least SOME good points). Only 8 books came from the library, 24 were on Kindle, and 24 were my own physical books (some I bought myself, some were gifts, and some had been languishing on my shelves for months). Ooh, I do enjoy a good stat. I could go on – if I’d done this at the end of the year, like proper bloggers do, I could have done a full statistical analysis…


Let’s have a look at my highs and lows of 2018!

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Happy 2019!

Big things are coming.

Oh, look, I’ve been neglecting my website again. For a good half of 2018, in fact. That happy little post I did a few months back about getting all disillusioned with blogging? Yeah, turns out that stuck. And for all my good intentions of going back to basics, having a good little ramble from time to time… that went out the window.

I suppose I didn’t think I had anything useful to say. I was just getting on with life, revving up for some big big things coming my way.

And now it’s time for those big things to get underway.

Firstly, you might have noticed that this website has had a bit of a revamp – my own domain name is back, for a start! And, er, my name has changed back. Don’t worry, I’m still happily married. But I’ve always said that I want my pen-name to be my maiden name. It’s far more memorable than my married one, for a start, and my feminist side has always stridently proclaimed that any big achievements I, er, achieve, should be done in my own original name.

And the achievements are coming.

Finally, finally, finally…

Meet the cover for The Bean Jar.

The Bean Jar by Jessica Leather
Oh yes. Oh yes oh yes oh yes.
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Let’s Go Back To Basics

You might have noticed I’ve been a bit quiet on here for a month or so.

To be fair, you probably didn’t. I’m notorious for my ‘on and off’ attitude towards blogging. Random bursts of wild enthusiasm followed by months of silence.

This latest little blip has come because I’ve just felt a bit, well, disillusioned with blogging in general. I’ve spent the last few months trying to be quite targeted with my posts: they all have a Point. A Theme. A Topic. Capital letters intentional.

It’s as if I’ve been trying to be a ‘proper’ blogger – some kind of amateur lifestyle guru with a highly photograph-able life. Potentially with an eventual goal of a curated Instagram feed using a focused palette of pastel colours.

Hmm. That doesn’t sound much like me, does it?

I’ve blogged for well over a decade now – since before blogging was really a thing. Back in Year Eight at school (ahh, crap, getting closer to two decades now) we were tasked with creating a website (an exercise in leaving us to our own devices so the IT teacher could get on with surfing the Internet in peace). Most people in the class diligently tried to create happy fan pages for their favourite things. I created “The Cow Pat Page’ where, under the alias ‘Cow Pat’ (don’t ask) I rambled away for lesson after lesson, unintentionally creating my first rudimentary blog.

I’ve not really stopped since: across several different platforms, until I finally arrived at WordPress a couple of years ago.

Here’s where my ‘back to basics’ comes in. I’ve always done my best, most consistent blogging when I don’t have a particular focus. When I can just rattle on about nothing in particular, perhaps reaching a point, perhaps not. Maybe occasionally throwing in a Post With A Purpose, but more often than not, treating my blog as a diary rather than some sort of ‘lifestyle’.

So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to put any pressure on myself; if I feel like a train-of-thought ramble, then I’ll do one. Be honest and let the ‘real me’ come out, rather than some ‘mum blogger’ I think I should be.

I’ve always been terrible at keeping my thoughts inside my head, and right now, having moved to the North East and not really made any friends outside work, a lot of my standard oddness is getting a bit jammed up. It’s time to let it free.

…or, at least, frighten the people of the Internet instead of my poor, long-suffering husband.

June Favourites 2018

How is it July already? It seems like fifteen minutes ago we were wading through snow during the Beast From The East, now I’m somehow managing to get a tan. In the North East. Miracle of biblical proportions, truly.

Apologies for the late arrival of my favourites post. As I said in my last one, it seems like any blogger worth the keyboard they type on is doing favourites posts at the moment, and I feel like it would be fun to join in. It would, however, be a bit better if I could get them done on time…

I’ve not been blogging much over the last month, or even doing my customary over-sharing on Instagram – I’ve been a bit busy, and, um, getting far too into PC gaming again. Blogging has definitely taken a back seat… I’ll explain in a bit.

Anyway here are some of my favourite things from last month!

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“I JUST CRIED ABOUT A BRACHIOSAURUS” – attempting to review Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Let’s make this clear.

I absolutely suck at writing reviews.

Especially of films.

For a start, any decent review mentions actors, directors, prouducers. Visual effect people. All that stuff.

I do not go into a film knowing any of that aforementioned ‘stuff’.

In fact, when I’m watching a film with my husband and he starts with the “oh I’ve seen him before, he played blah blah in blah blah and IMDB blah” I totally zone out. Evidently.

So my reviews will always be very much lacking on the ‘Mr Director showed his background in horror movies with his use of suspense’ and ‘Mrs Actor, famous for her role in That Film’ front.

I go by my gut. Liking things. Not liking things. The odd bit of outrage.

So what about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom?


Here’s a hint: I started writing this blog post before I even left the cinema, when I still found myself vaguely teary about the fate of a CGI Brachiosaurus.

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May Favourites 2018

Everyone else seems to do these, so I figured why not join in? Now I’ve started being paid, I can actually afford the occasional treat again. So here’s a little ramble about some of my favourite new things from this month!

Plus, I’ve even included my favourite recipe from this month. You’ll want to stick around for it. It’s a work of culinary and nutritious genius.

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Teddy the Toddler: an 18 Month Update

Yes, yes, I know this is rather late… and Ted is actually turning nineteen months old in a couple of days. But still. I haven’t done an update on my tiny boy for quite some time, so here’s a bit about Teddy at eighteen months old. Just call it an excuse to do a happy parental brag about my clearly adorable child, and, of course, one hell of a photo-dump.

How on earth do I have a toddler?

It seems like in the space of about fifteen minutes Ted has gone from a chubby, cheerful crawler rolling round the floor – mobile, mischievous, but still definitely a baby – to an actual toddling person. He has his own tastes, his own opinions and absolutely no qualms about making them known – yes, he is a toddler.

I haven’t done a proper update on Teddy in a while and I don’t really know where to start. He’s just… my Ted.

Physically… just look at my beautiful boy. Everyone always says he’s the spit of his dad, but I can see a bit of me in him now he’s bigger.


I do hate all that ‘who does he look like?’ malarkey. Sure, he’s got a dimple in his chin, just like me. He’s got his dad’s jawline and the same shape around the eyes. But you know what? He looks like himself. Just my boy Ted.

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Dreambakes: Thoughtful Food in the Heart of Doncaster

Back in 2014, my dear friend Hannah was just starting her new baking business – I was just about to get married, and she was automatically our first choice to make our wedding cake. A sound choice, it turned out. Our brief had managed to be both vague and complicated at the same time, but Hannah fulfilled it marvellously with the most splendid purple cake, partially gluten-free, partially dairy-free, three different flavours, and with a hint of Harry Potter.

That should give a pretty good hint towards Hannah’s talent as a baker.

Four years along the line, and that little baking business has grown and grown. Hannah and her mum, Carol, have just opened their first official premises – a café and deli in their hometown of Doncaster, serving up their own bakes alongside tried and tested local products.

Teddy and I had a little trip down there on Friday to see how it’s going, and I had a secret mission of my own, too…

It’s been far too long since I’ve had a regular writing spot: Darlington is woefully devoid of cosy hipster cafés of the type I frequented back in Manchester, and even getting into the semi-soulless chain coffee houses requires some luck. On days where I’ve got Ted sleeping in the pram next to me, it’s next to impossible.

I’ve been on a proper hunt for somewhere to be my new writing home-from-home: somewhere comfy and friendly, with excellent coffee and tempting food. Plug sockets would be a plus, and preferably somewhere that wouldn’t look down on me for rocking up with a noisy toddler. I’ve found a couple of places I like in York, but so far not a single one that fulfils all of my criteria.

What perfect timing, then, that Dreambakes should be opening?


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Eurovision Weekend 2018: the “Live Blog”

I was planning to do this as an actual live blog – but I am poor, and can’t afford to upgrade my WordPress, which I’d need to do to add live-blogging facilities. I think. I’m not half as techy as I’d like to pretend, and I don’t really have a clue. Oh well. You’ll just have to see my updates as they happened. This is probably for the best anyway… I’m going to try not to edit too much, for the amusement value, but at least this way I can cut out the worst of the drunken rambles!

Saturday 12th May


I am on a train to London! Sitting in First Class on the marvellous Virgin Trains East Coast, of course. And I’m not just saying they’re marvellous because I work for them and so am travelling for free. It’s a HST, which I’m not a fan of (I’m turning into such a train nerd) but I’ve just had a pain au chocolat, I’ve got unlimited coffee, a raspberry yoghurt, and Harry Potter on their Beam entertainment service. I should be catching up with my Goodreads Challenge, really, but the opportunity for some caffeinated Potter time was too good to miss.

So where am I going, and why?

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