Books · Lifestyle · Travel

Book Review – Water Gypsies by Annie Murray

I was really excited to reading this book as soon as I got it for two reasons. Firstly, Annie Murray is one of my favourite authors, her style of writing captures my imagination instantly. Her books always run in a series of at least two books so that you can follow the story of the characters. Secondly, I am obsessed with canal boats and always have been since an early age. I buy decorative items from a local man who paints the floral detail on canal boats for a living and as a sideline paints the same detail onto pots, pans and other beautiful pieces.

What I didn’t realise when I bought this book was that it was part two in a series, which luckily I had already read the first book called “The narrowboat girl”. It was a couple of years ago that I read it but as soon as I started on “Water gypsies”, I was transported back into the world of canal boats as if I had read both books one after the other. Whilst you can still read “Water gypsies” without having read “The narrowboat girl”, I do believe you should read them in order to get a better understanding of what character Maryann’s childhood was like before she became a boat woman. Perhaps a good suggestion on my part for the publishers and indeed authors would be to identify their books on the cover so that we can understand its part of a series! With a bit of luck you never know a publisher might be reading this review.

“Water gypsies” tells a more in-depth story of what life was really like for a boat woman in the 1940s and the hardships that were faced that we perhaps don’t think about now.

I felt there was two main points to the story and the way of life for boat families, where they struggled with a large family, little money, hard work for the husband on top of this was World War II.

From the start of the book I was gripped, whereas sometimes i feel starting a book the story line is slow on the uptake. There were so many unexpected twists and turns throughout the story that I just simply struggled put the book down. Annie’s wonderful descriptions of inside the boat caught my imagination so much that I could almost imagine myself being there. Her use of local slang also had me reading the book in my head with a Birmingham accent which was where the character Maryann originated. Overall I think this book was one of the best saga genre books that I have read in a very long time and I will admit that I actually read the last quarter of the book in one go because i was so intrigued to its ending (I finished it at 2am). If you love a little bit of history alongside your romance and saga books like I do then this book is the one for you.


Christmas Gift Guide

(Some of the items in this “Christmas gift guide” have very kindly been sent to me to sample, all my views stated are honest opinions and I wouldn’t recommend anything I didn’t feel others would benefit. Any prices mentioned were correct at the time of writing however you would be advised to check before purchasing)

The first item I wanted to share with you is for the beauty lover amongst you! I love wearing nail polish and in the past, have tried to do patterns on them to make them look festive. However I have to admit that I’m not very good at it and have limited resources to perfect it.

This is where Creative Nails comes in, because they do the most amazing hand painted nail sets straight to your door. They have various designs to choose from on both their website and on their Etsy shop. You also have the option of choosing the size and length of the nails to make them perfect for you. They even have a customised option for you to choose your own themes. Prices vary depending on how much detail is on the nails so there is something suitable for everyones budget. The Christmas Elf nails retail at £14.99 whilst the Rudolf ones are £12.99 and are packaged in their own box so are definitely worth investing in.

The next idea that you can expand on depending on the individual and that is to create a hamper, in my opinion you can create for any event. I love creating personalised hampers for family members, that I feel they will find useful. Over the years I have found this idea especially useful for grandparents or even your elderly neighbour as I’m sure they will love getting lots of little bits and pieces. This could be a food hamper or a mixture of personal items like cosy pyjamas, a good book, hand cream and chocolates.

Another idea if you want something more personal would be a photo book/album. You could add photos throughout the years from your own collection which will be a keepsake of beautiful memories. I have actually done this for my partner Andy so if you would like any ideas or help, please get in touch with me and I’ll help as much as I can.

Sticking to the personalised idea, did you know that you can buy personalised candles complete with a photo. Obviously this is probably not the type of candle that you’d want to burn, but it can be a great decorative item, which you could even add to the hamper mentioned above. I’ve written a whole blog post on creating a personalised candle with Brinley Williams which I will leave linked here.

For those that enjoy travelling, why not buy a book on the country concerned which certain books contain customs and culture, along with common phrases. If you know someone who has already booked a trip or is about to, these great guides from Culture Smart are perfect for you. These are packed full of tips on local customs and traditions, the do’s and don’ts as well as eating and drinking what the locals do and tips on local transport. These guides are so much more than a holiday guide because they give a background to how the people live, their values and their daily life. The Culture Smart guides are available for so many different countries, so rather than me list them all, I will link their website here so that you can see their extensive list.

Lastly, I want to mention this is not an item as such but more a gift experience. There are so many different gift experiences out there that there should be something for everyone. Whether its a spa experience, a thrill seeking experience or something in between, the recipient would hopefully love it. But don’t worry, if your budget doesn’t stretch to that, wherever you have researched your specific idea from, try researching for cheaper alternatives, the shops for examples.

So my gift guide for this year, I hope I’ve given you some inspiration on what gifts you could give your family and friends. Let me know what your favourite item is I’ve mentioned.

Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish all my followers and especially those who have commented on my posts, a very merry Christmas and happy prosperous new year for 2020.

Aviation · Lifestyle

The Real Heroes – GWAAC

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Who is GWAAC?

It stands for Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (See their website HERE). They are a team of specialist crew of medical professionals who work 365 days a year, attending emergencies, on average of 5 times every day.

They cover Bristol, Bath, Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, North East Somerset and North Somerset. However many of the calls they receive are outside of this area, with 108 calls being outside that area so far this year.

2019 is set to be their busiest year to date. The first half of the year saw the number of incidents attended reach 971, with 6 more months to go.

66% of missions were attended by car

33% of missions were attended by helicopter

What do they do?

“GWAAC” attend some of the very worst situations. From roadside blood transfusions, amputations to treating cardiac arrests and administering general anesthetics. They even carry a range of specialist equipment, so that they can treat patients of any age or size, whether that’s an adult or a child.

33% of incidents are cardiac arrests

18% are road traffic collisions

26% other medical emergencies such as collapse or fitting

23% other trauma emergencies such as falls, burns or drowning.

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How can I help?

Great Western Air Ambulance Charity is exactly that, a charity. They rely solely on fundraising and donations.

To put it into perspective:

£30 is the cost of one pre-filled syringe with essential stabilising drugs

£175 pays for boots to keep the crew warm & dry

£9,000 pays for a ventilator to keep patients breathing.

Which brings me onto their new campaign…

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A message from Great Western Air Ambulance Charity:

The festive season is a time for gathering with our friends, family and loved ones to celebrate and feast together. As the nights draw in and the sparkly lights are turned on, thoughts turn to the office parties, family gatherings and mince pies. For many, it’s the chance to take a well-earned break and to get excited about the year ahead. It’s their favourite time of year.

Yet over the Christmas period, it’s a sad fact that many people across our region will be involved in a medical emergency or traumatic incident that leaves them fighting for their lives. When a life-changing incident happens, it’s mot just the person who is affected, but their family and friends too.

This Christmas the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity Critical Care Team will be working every single day across providing potentially life-saving treatment where it’s most needed to children and adults across our region. We attend over 5 incidents each day on average, and some days it’s many more. Our specialist crew bring the expertise of an emergency department directly to the person where and when they need it most.

This is a vital service, yet many people don’t realise that we’re funded entirely from charitable donations. It’s a hard job, which takes a special kind of person, but we couldn’t do what we do without you.

This festive season we’ll be working hard to keep families together for many more Christmases to come. But we need your help to ensure our crew of specialist doctors and paramedics can go where they’re needed most.

Each one of our missions costs at least £1,750 and could potentially save a life. This means we need to raise £8,750 every single day to keep our service flying.

This Christmas, we’re calling on you to help us fund as many of our Christmas Missions as we can. In doing so, you’ll be helping to save local lives.

Please help fund a #ChristmasMission

For more information and to donate visit or visit @GWAAC on Twitter/Instagram and @GreatWesternAirAmbulanceCharity on Facebook where you will also find real life stories of those they have helped. Make sure you check out the hashtag #ChristmasMission to find out how the fundraising is going.

*Disclaimer – Having been a fan of aviation for many years, I have previously learnt about some of the amazing work that air ambulance charities do and so I was honoured when I was asked by GWAAC to help spread the word about their #ChristmasMission. I have not been sponsored in any way to write this post but I would like to give special thanks to the GWAAC for providing the photos that appear in this post.

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Books · Travel

Another man’s child by Anne Bennett

I’m back with another book review and one that I have literally just finished reading.

Set in Ireland in 1920, “another man’s child” starts off telling the tale of what life was like for a farmers daughter growing up at that time. The character Celia is so sweet and innocent that I instantly felt like I wanted to both be her friend and protect her. She soon finds a bit of happiness that due to her fathers stubbornness, she is about to loose forever. Encouraged by her sister Nora, she has a decision to make about whether to loose the man she loved or leave the country that had always been home.

The story then takes a unexpected twist and Celia and her love Andy are soon separated. It is a separation that due to misunderstandings and male pride, take longer than necessary to rectify. Through sadness, becomes happiness but only after a few truths have been told and in the end, things work out just fine.

I would love to see a sequel to this story because it feels like it isnt quite finished and that there is another chapter to the story. I’d love to know what happens next to the two sisters and have felt so connected with them, that I feel like I’m alongside them every step of the way. For me, that is something that I have always found Anne Bennett has a gift for, drawing the reader into the story.

It is not until the end of the book that I realised that the story was based on a true one and that Anne had basically just given the story a much different ending. To think that people had actually gone through this makes me appreciate even more the morale of the story and that is that you should choose your own happiness and love, for nobody can choose that for you.


Brinley Williams Personalised Pillar Candle

*Ad – Gifted

For much of my adult life, I have loved candles and as I’m always burning them, I’m always buying more. I do however have a couple of sentimental candles that i use as decoration and will most likely never burn.

I was recently asked if I would like to try a pillar candle from Brinley Williams. I must admit I had never heard of them before but I thought I’d take a look at their website before I made a decision. As soon as I saw the variety of products on offer, I knew I wanted to try one.

There are so many candles to choose from on their website but I was particularly interested in their personalised candle range as this is a bit more unique. In the personalised section there are so many styles to choose from – wedding favours, anniversaries, new baby and Christmas to name a few and some options even come with a metallic foil design. I chose the personalised photo Christmas candle. It was easy to navigate around the website as well as to upload the photo that I wanted on the candle as well as the text I wanted too.

When it arrived, I was surprised at how quickly it arrived as well as how well packaged it was. The candle even comes wrapped in cellophane complete with a ribbon tie, which personally I think is great because I have no intention of burning this candle and can instead dust the candle off easily.

Overall, the whole website & service from Brinley Williams was excellent and I was kept up to date with my order throughout the process. The candles available on their website would make the perfect gift for so many occasions that you should check them out and let me know what you think.

*Whilst this product was given to me on a gifted basis, all views stated are my honest own opinions.