Freshly Grown: An Introduction

It’s no secret that I like to grow plants. As a little girl, my dad used to take me to the allotment with him and assist with the gardening. Together we dug up potatoes, plucked blackcurrants, pickled shallots and sowed many and seed. We even had matching Head and Assistant gardener jumpers.

Where I live now, we have a patio garden with a couple of flowers beds. Whilst I can’t have a full vegetable garden here, I do like to grow some things. Last year was mostly a flower year but we did manage to get a couple of strawberries off of plants I potted into our hanging baskets. The nasturtiums we planted in the main flower bed pretty much took over the garden they grew so big. I did slip a couple of the flowers into salads though.

This year, I’ve gone a different route. The strawberries remain in their hanging basket but I doubt they will produce much at all. In a slight impulse purchase on eBay, I ended up with seeds for eight different varieties of tomato (not bad for 99p!). So currently on my window sill are eight little pots, with tiny saplings growing. The varieties are as follows, with pictures of what the eventual fruit should look like:

Peach Red

Peach Red


White Cherry

White Cherry


Green Cherry

Cherry Green


Hillbilly (or Flame)



Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc tomatoes


Red Apple

Red Apple


Cherokee Purple

Cherokee Purple


Wild Cherry

Wild Cherry


To those who know me, they might be wondering why I’m growing all these tomatoes when I don’t actually like them! The answer is that I don’t like supermarket tomatoes, and those are the only ones I’ve ever tried. I am trying to expand my food repertoire and possibly a more exotic or weird-looking variety of tomato will appeal to me. Although I don’t eat tomatoes on their own, I do put them in a lot of dishes I make, such as pasta and couscous and would like to try my usual recipes with slightly different ingredients. Also, Jim does like tomatoes and will happily munch them all if it turns out I don’t like them.

We’re also growing some other edible delights. Alongside the propagating tomatoes are some demon red chillies for Jim that are growing very well! Outside in a trench style tub are radishes and spring onions and in round terracotta number we have some lettuce growing.

I’m looking forward to tending the plants, watching them growing and eventually bear glorious food! I’ll be writing updates as we go along and including as many pictures as I can. Hopefully, the fruits and vegetables of this labour will be worth it.




The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: 52 in 52 Book #15

The Fault in Our Stars

I think I should start by saying that I did enjoy this book. For everything else this book caused, I at least wanted to read it and found it generally fulfilling. However, a book about two teenagers with cancer was never going to be a happy, pick-me-up book.

Hazel is the main protagonist, with terminal cancer. Her life is being prolonged by experimental medicines but, as she constantly reminds the reader, she will die eventually. She meets Augustus “Gus” at a support group for teenage sufferers. The book from there on details their growing relationship and love for each other.

Before reading this book, I had received mixed views on it. Most official reviews were positive with many authors proclaiming it to be a brilliant piece of young adult literature. However, opinions were divided when I asked for thoughts on it. Some criticised the level of writing, claiming it to be poorly written and on par with the Twilight Saga for literary prowess; others found the storyline uninteresting and boring. I have to say, I partially agree about the way it is written. It’s not a complex book and sometimes you wonder whether something was written appropriately. Then there are sections that, to me, seemed perfectly wonderful examples of how books should be scripted. I particularly enjoyed the trip to Amsterdam and the conversations Hazel and Gus have about metaphorical resonances. The ending did seem rushed to me though. It was like there was this massive build-up which ended in this sweet but wholly disappointing finish. I was left with this feeling that book hadn’t ended, but maybe that was the author’s intention.

My main issue with The Fault in Our Stars was the emotions it brought out in me. Now I like a book that makes me think, feel joy, cry a little maybe. I’m not so found of ones that give me recurring nightmares. I had a close friend Charlie pass away after spending a good few years battling a brain tumour. I miss him very much and find I think about him most days. However, this book turned my quiet and fairly manageable sadness into an assault of nightmares, mood swings and listening to the playlist of music, which I made specifically because the songs remind me of him, pretty much on loop. This book brought back the pain from the few days after Charlie died. In a way, this is good because it is now motivating me to do something for Charlie so I can honour his memory. It still hurts though.

I think this book is definitely something every young person should read. The insights into cancer are spot on and it does have a wonderful and heart-breaking plot. On an academic level, it is a good book to critically analyse the writing style. But most of all, it’s a very human book and one which would appeal to lots of young people on the cusp of adulthood.



Pyramids by Terry Pratchett: 52 in 52 Book #14


I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed by this book. The premise looked good: assassins, a civilisation based on Ancient Egypt called Djelibeybi (hehe), a camel who’s the world’s greatest mathematician… I enjoyed the last Terry Pratchett novel I read. And yet, it never really lived up to my intruiged expectations.

The thing is, I can’t quite decide why. The plot was good, although some bits dragged for longer than I thought necessary. The characters were engaging and thought-provoking. The little side notes were there and dry humour was slathered onto the pages but I couldn’t get into it.

Truth is, I’ve been trying to finish this book since I finished Gabriel’s Angel. Every time I thought about reading it I could think of ten other things I’d rather be doing, including watching paint dry. Where this reluctance to pick up this book came from is a mystery but all I know is I was bored of reading it, bored of seeing it lie on my bedside table and taunting me with its presence and bored of thinking ‘I really should finish it’.

Upon finishing the story I felt free. I could read something enjoyable again! Then I felt guilty because really this was a book I should have loved. Should have, but didn’t. I feel bad that the author put effort into this only for me to stress over how awful I felt every time I looked at the blasted thing.

I don’t know what to say about this book. I don’t know whether I should recommend it, even to Terry Pratchett fans. All I can say is I have never disliked a book and wanted it as far away from me since being forced to read Pride and Prejudice at school. And I really hated Pride and Prejudice!

52 in 52: Review of the last Thirteen Books

So I am officially a quarter of the way to meeting my target! It’s been a real achievement to have kept this up and got so far. I have read many new books, some which I may not have even bothered reading otherwise and discovered many new worlds and characters that may have remained hidden from me forever.

Being the number nerd I am, I have decided to create some charts from the statistics of the books I have read. There are three categories I shall examine. Firstly, I shall look at the genres of the books then at the average rating I have given them. I will also look at the author gender ratio.

Here is my table of the first thirteen books:

Table- 13 books



I have sorted the books into genres as defined by their Wikipedia article, if they have one. Otherwise I have assigned them to the genre I feel they fit into best.

Genre chart- 13 books

Fantasy and crime novels seem to be my favourites but there are some other genres in there. Perhaps I should indulge in some romance, mythology or maybe even some non-fiction. I am totally open to suggestions so please if you have a book or book series you think I should read, leave a comment below and I’ll look into it.



Rating chart- 13 books

I assigned ratings to these books based on how much I enjoyed them and as such they are very subjective. My ratings are generally within the higher end of the spectrum. This could possibly be because I am averse to harsh marking but could also be because the majority of books I’ve read I found to be enjoyable. We shall see over the next thirteen books whether this changes. However, I predict that I will generally have more books with higher rating. This is because most of my recommendations come from people who know what sorts of books I enjoy and because I generally find reading books I enjoy easier to read and therefore I read more of them.


Author Gender Ratio

I noticed after reading about six books for this challenge that many of the authors of the books I have read were men. Curiosity caused me to document and chart the genders of the authors to see if this were the case. (In this chart, each book has its own point, even if I have read more than one book by the same author. So here Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is counted twice)

Gender balance- 13 books

Whilst I have read more books by men I wonder why this is. Is there something inherently different about men’s writing styles I prefer? Is it that men tend to write more in the genres I prefer reading? Or is it simply coincidence? I think this will be interesting to see how this develops throughout my challenge.


It would be interesting to know what any of our readers think about this challenge or any of the books read so far. As I’ve previously said, suggestions for further reading are always welcome and also any questions, criticisms or comments on the reviews are welcome. Bring on the nest thirteen books!



World Wide Wednesday: Procrastination Aids!

During the obligatory procrastination from attending to my dissertation, I took a stroll down the side roads of the internet. Here, out of the sphere of Facebook, Google and YouTube, live some weird and wonderful ways of wasting your time. Today I bring to you a selection of five things you can do whilst pretending to be doing something productive.


1. The Benedict Cumberbatch Name Generator

This simple little site has only one purpose: to generate you a name as sophisticated, snooty and weird as Benedict Cumberbatch’s own. So far my favourite has been Buttercup Cumberbund…

Benedict Cumberbatch name generator


2. Seaquence

A charming little programme which allows you to make music by creating little plankton-esque creatures and adapting them to change the sounds they make. Hours of fun to be had altering and composing the ultimate concerto!



3. Rainy Mood

Not so much something to do but this site essentially just adds the sound of falling rain into your life. I found this to be oddly relaxing…

Rainy Mood


4. Epic Rail

This rail simulation game requires you to manipulate the signal points on a rail to ensure the trains deliver the correct passengers to the correct stations without the trains colliding. Addictive and can get quite challenging later on.

Epic Rail


5. Ambigram Maker

Ambigrams are images that have a different meaning or look depending on how they are orientated. Here this site allows you to create many word based ambigrams!



Enjoy your procrastination!