Tag Archives: books

I can see clearly now the rain has gone

The last few weeks remain challenging as my illness goes on as do my visits to hospitals & doctors & consultants – oh my.. but the latest developments is a blinding skull crushing endless headache that has been my constant companion for two weeks now, it is affecting my vision, I wear sunglasses all day and spent most of the time lying down in a darkened room. Screen time is limited because it is too painful and it also means I can’t read anything. I’m dosed up on lots of lovely painkillers that aren’t quite touching the sides of the pain and they mean that I can’t drive essentially leaving me housebound. This situation has therefore forced me to literally just ‘sit and be’.


I was feeling most despairing of the situation until I hit upon a drug combo that helps lifts the pain slightly for a for a few hours a day and it has been during these periods of time that I have developed a clarity about the things that I enjoy doing and that bring me genuine pleasure. Top of my list is reading, I adore books, all looks, old books, new books, Amazon & Waterstones are my guilty late night online shopping addictions. I have missed reading for the last few weeks, my little forays into other lives and worlds, the importance of being able to pick up and immerse myself in a book has never occurred to me to be anything other than ‘just what I do’ but since I haven’t been able to I have been reminded what a simple and satisfying pleasure and, often a comfort,it is to me. It is not something I shall take for granted again.

I am now also extremely grateful to the BBC Radio podcasts that have allowed me to listen to books instead, so far Rogue Gerries, Mary Barton and part way through Vanity Fair. In Our Time has also become a firm favourite, a 45 minute discussion on a specific topic hosted Melvyn Brag with a panel of experts, the topics are very diverse; history, religion, science etc, it has taught me loads.


As a parent, something I am ashamed to admit and wasn’t really fully aware of was the fact that when I am with baby Lulu I am not always 100% ‘present’. But lately we have been lying in bed together cuddling and talking , listening , and giggling together. I realise that gleaning pleasure from these things seem ridiculously obvious but for me I feel that its been the silver lining of my time off work, and the inability  of me to be detracted by the TV or phone or tech has given me the gift of time with her and it has been an honour.


I’ve learnt not to sweat the little things too much, when you are in chronic pain, unable to see properly and suffering from insomnia the fact that I haven’t hoovered for  week and the floor has ‘bits’ on doesn’t seem very important at all, its not even been put high on the list of ‘things to do’. I have lost my appetite but cups of gorgeous to chocolate with sticky sweet unctuous marshmallow melting on top has brought me great comfort, as have hot water bottles on my neck, lying down for an afternoon nap, being able to really listen to what my body really needs, sleep, food, water, and the company go my constant companion, Livia.




Some of my favourite things

I write this from my sick bed while on holiday on the Suffolk coast. I have been ‘glutened’, in my profile I state that I am gluten free, this is not by choice. I have Coeliacs disease, which is an intolerance of gluten (barley, wheats, oats & rye), eating any gluten at all makes me incredibly ill and causes a lot of damage to my body that takes a very long time to recover from. I won’t bore you with the details of how it happened but when a restaurant advertises a gluten free menu and you confirm with them three times when you are there that everything is gluten free and you are assured it is and then they feed you gluten it feels just miserable. So I thought I’d cheer myself by writing about one of my favourite subjects. Books.

I absolutely adore books, I always have. My house is full of them, on shelves, in boxes under the beds, in piles next to my bed. I have tried my hardest to pass this gift, this love of books, onto Lulu and so far so good. An outing to the local library after her ballet class on a Saturday morning or a trip to the bookshop for a browse on a Sunday is always a winner for both of us.

Books are a huge source of comfort to me, they soothe me, inform me and transport me. I read different books depending on my mood, at any one time I can have unto ten books on the go. But I just love that feeling when you come across a book so gripping, so enthrawling that you try to keep your eyes open in bed just so you can read a tiny bit more of it, rain towards the end. But then when you do get to the end you feel a little bereft and wish you hadn’t raced to finish it. Like having an amazing chat with an old friend and then they have to rush off.

I have read a lot of books, different styles and subjects but I do have a small core of favourites which I am happy to read over and over again. And on the occasions that I lose my reading mojo it is to one of these stalwarts that I turn to get me back on track.

In no particular order here are my favourite books of all time, so far;

1. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh. From the spires of Oxford to the Second World War, beautiful, poetic and other worldly.

2. American Psycho – Brett Eastern Ellis. Controversial, disturbing, amusing view of 80s yuppies in New York. Involves serial killing.

3. Hollywood Wives – Jackie Collins. Glorious glamorous trash.

4. The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger. Coming of age and teen angst at its finest, possibly the Great American novel?

5. Bridget Jones Diary – Helen Fielding. Chardonnay, Mr Darcy, ‘that’ scene in the lake, you know the score.

6. The Secret History – Donna Tart. A contemporary of Ellis, dark and addictive. Another contender for the Great American novel?

7. An Omelette and a Glass of Wine – Elizabeth David. Beautiful food writing that always has me salivating.

8. Medea – Euripides. Fifth century BC GreeK tragedy, betrayal, infanticide & a dragon pulled chariot.

9. A Room with a View – EM Forster. An absolute classic, set in Florence and England.

10. Neals Yard Womens Health – Wise words regarding alternative remedies and holistic treatments.

Told you I had eclectic taste.

IMG_6077Some of the books I have on the go at the moment are as follow-

Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov . I’m re reading this controversial book to see if my view of of has changed since I read it 20 years ago.

Skeletons – Jane Fallon. Loved all her other books, great holiday read.

The Opposite of Loneliness – Marina Keegan. Collection of works from an exceptionally talented woman

The Goldfinch – Donna Tart. A favourite author’s long anticipated book

The Big Allotment Challenge: The Patch. Grow Make Eat – Tessa Evelegh. This accompanies the BBC TV series. I WILL use my allotment this year, honest.

The main picture is the beautiful Southwold Books.