January 20, 2017

This is my review of Longbow Girl by Linda Davies.

This was such a feel-good, easy reading story. If you’re into some Young Adult reading, a little bit of fantasy and some kick-ass girl power then this is a story you should take a look at. Rick bought this for me as a present because I recently completed a beginners archery course and am really loving my archery right now. So here is my review of Longbow Girl.

Merry Owen is a teenager who has been brought up by her father to be an absolute boss at archery. (Little bit of archery humour there…boom boom). The Owen family have lived at their little farm in Wales for hundreds of years and in every generation there has always been a master longbow man. There has always been a constant family feud with the family who own the estate and the Black Castle (the de Courcy  family)  adjoining the Owens’ land ever since the times of Henry VIII. But Merry and James De Courcy are best friends and don't let their family feud stop their friendship. Meeting up, frolicking and complaining about how rubbish this family feud is is usually the order of the day.

The Owen farm is in danger of having to be sold due to an incident where their prize stud stallion was killed by The Black hunting hounds. But luckily Merry finds an old book that could be worth a lot of money on their land…but then she's knocked unconscious in the snow and  it’s stolen! Drama

Merry finds a secret river cave, which she swims through and finds herself going back in time! She accidentally ends up getting her ancestor arrested and then needs to compete in an archery competition so that the Owens don't lose their farm…but back in time.
Can Merry save the day? And the farm? Will we find out who’s stolen the book? And will James’
parents ever accept his lifelong dream to be a professional footballer for Manchester United? You'll have to read to find out!

As I mentioned before, I really love the feel-good can do attitude of this book. It took me right back to my childhood when I would literally just devour hundreds of adventure books. It's very much in that sort of genre. I think it's something a little bit different, as there aren't too many books out there about female archers. (Are there? Correct me if I'm wrong).

 I loved the whole rural, farming horsey element of it too. It was totally up my street. I love that the girl heroine in this book is smart and prepared for all situations. She doesn't need rescuing. She doesn't come across a male hero that rescues her. She doesn't accidentally discover a way out of her situation. It's her brains, skill and wit that solve her problems. She's skilled with a bow, a knife and in horsemanship. She's my kind of girl.

I think possibly Davies could have found a better way for Merry to go back in time rather than just swimming through a magical river cave, and I found it a bit unbelievable that this magical river cave would take her back to this exact point in history..but maybe that's just me. I also think that James could have had a better lifelong dream than playing football for Manchester United. Being that the book is set in Wales, I feel his aspiration should have been to play rugby for Wales. Also, I hate football. Just putting that out there.

I also love that romance wasn't a huge factor in the book, I think there's a brief moment towards the end, but it's not a huge part of it. Too many authors think that every single adventure story needs some sort of a romantic relationship and you end up slapping your forehead at them. But it was very nice to see that a girl and a boy CAN just be friends.

Over all I really enjoyed this book and will probably read it a few more times. This is
also a classic example of when you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. By the cover, I thought it was some sort of an African theme, but it's really not.

Have you read Longbow Girl? Or do you have any book recommendations for me for 2017? Let me know in the comments!

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Longbow Girl

My Goals for 2017

January 18, 2017

Hello everybody!
I'm going to start off with a picture from last year when we actually had a winter. Remember that? Snow and stuff? So don't be fooled into thinking Northumberland looks like a winter wonderland right now, because it doesn't. It's basically a muddy mess...anyways...

Really I suppose this post is coming a bit late…I mean really everybody does these sorts of posts on 1st January right? Well I wanted to make sure that I got this absolutely perfect. I wanted to really think about what I want to achieve in 2017 and figure out how I was going to do that.

I'm not calling these resolutions, I don't really like the term New Years Resolution. It kind of infers to me that you have some sort of problem that needs resolving. Well, I don't think like that. I don't have problems, I have goals. I have dreams. I have things I want to achieve. One of the first things you learn about how to set goals is about setting small achievable steps yes? So that's what Im going to do.
Some great things happened in 2016 but I kinda felt like it was a bit…floaty? Is that a thing? I felt like we just floated along.
2017 is our year, and the year we are going to make things happen. Yeah.
I have some general areas that I want to improve, and a few specifics within those areas so I've broken them down into handy bullet points.

Improve Health and Fitness

Workout three times a week – And by ‘workout’ I mean activities that really get the heart racing, such as a video workout, jogging, swimming or whatever. Doing just 20 minutes of high intensity activity three times a week makes a huge difference.
Get my five a day EVERY DAY – Most days, I do manage this anyway but there it is known for me to go for a few days eating very few green things and this is really REALLY awful! The key to good health is about being consistent.
Drink 1 litre of water EVERY DAY –Again this is fairly self explanatory.I have got into a habit of drinking water when I wake up, before every meal, before a bath and a bit before bed. Now when I say ‘drinking water’ that it supposed to be a glass…but sometimes it's just a few gulps. I need to get into the habit of making sure it is a glass every time, and lots more in between.
Keep my weight under 10st- this isn't just necessarily about the weight but more…just how I feel. I feel at my best when I'm between 9st6-9st10. This is what I tend to weigh throughout the summer as my workload grows dramatically and I spend a lot more time on my feet. In the winter I spend a lot more of my work day sitting down…and eat a lot more stodgy food such as pies and stews (homemade of course, but stodgy none the less). So naturally I gain weight…and tend to end up over 10 st and I just don't feel confident any more. So my goal is to work just that extra bit harder in the winter to make sure I don't gain those comfort pounds. Fluctuating weight wise isn't good for you anyway. I've explained in past posts that I'm not really that fussed about weight and skinniness in general, but I do want to feel my best.

Improve Finances (yeah don't we all…)

Pay off wedding- from the moment we got engaged we set up a budget and a saving plan. And boy have we been saving! I think we've done pretty well. The wedding is in May and I've got a very organised spread sheet depicting who wants paying on what date. Everyone wants paying roughly 4-8 weeks before the wedding and I think we’ll have enough to cover them. We both have emergency credit cards in case we have to pay for something unexpected last minute. Or in case we need to spend some of our savings on an unexpected outgoing. This goal is definitely achieveable.
Fill in monthly spread sheets- depicting incoming and outgoing money's. Then use these to try and figure out where we can save, if possible.
Keep our household bills down- there are definitely things that I can do a little bit more of like turning off a light when I leave the room etc. We plan to invest in a tumble dryer this year (yaaaay!) which might sound counter-intuitive, but at the moment we have to run a dehumidifier in order to dry laundry on an airer in the spare room and that usually takes about 24 hours. It's incredibly juicy and uses a ridiculous amount of electricity. A tumble dryer that only takes half an hour will save us a huge amount of power.
Meal Prep!- I actually really enjoy doing this and do a little bit already, but I want to take this to the next level! Meal prepping will save us money. You plan out your meals by the week and then do a food shop according to those ingredients. I don't know about you, but my shopping tactics at the moment involve looking at something and thinking ‘yeah I can use that’, chucking it in the basket and then throwing it away a week later because I didn't use it. I exaggerate slightly, but that does happen to more items than I'd like. Bad Ellie.

Run the household more efficiently!

Create a cleaning schedule – my cleaning schedule at the moment is extremely haphazard. I do things when they look like they need doing…or when I remember. This is not an efficient way to run a household. I need to create a schedule of things that need doing daily, weekly and monthly.
Cupboard rotation- I am so terrible for this. I buy some new cans of soup, put them at the front of the cupboard, consume them and then put new ones at the front again. Then 2 years later I dig around at the back and find out of date soup! Not the way forward.

Be better at gardening

This year I plan to plant more vegetables (I'll blog about that at a later date). I found and bought this handy yearly vegetable planner by Charles Dowding that has loads of helpful information in it, and I feel that I can do better than the onions and parsnips that I nurtured last year.
Keep on top of weeding regularly – Little and often is the key. You achieve far more by doing just 5 minutes of weeding a day, than by spending half a day every 2 weeks. Every day I just need to suck it up and get on with it.
Do more preserving – if you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I already do quite a lot of preserving, but I know I can do more. I had to waste a lot of apples this year because I didn't preserve them fast enough. I felt awful. It won't happen again I can assure you.
Get chickens - I've wanted chickens ever since we moved to Northumberland but it's just never been the right time. So we decided that we were going to get them this year, hopefully in March…but we’ll see what the deal is with this DEFRA ban on allowing chickens outside because of avian flu. Hopefully it will have blown over by then. Fingers crossed.

Help Bosun to be a better dog

Basically there’s only one goal here, and that's training, training, training! A lot of Bosun’s flaws are purely because we haven't taught him correctly or haven't carried on with training in that particular area. This year, I want to make his recall perfect and I want him to stop chasing deer. Those are my goals for Bosun for this year. I don't think it's much to ask. But apparently he thinks it's a huge ask...

So these are the things that I really want to work on and achieve this year. I know I can do it, these things are all within my power to achieve. Have you guys ever read the poem Invictus? It is one of my favourites and I am going to leave you here with the last two lines

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

Who else has set some goals for 2017? If you've written a blog post, leave me a link in the comments section and I'll go and check it out,

Welcome Back!

January 10, 2017

Hello and a happy good morning to you wherever in the world you may be today!
All's been quiet around here over the Christmas period, because quite simply, life got in the way.
Rick, Bosun and I took our annual holiday trip down to Dorset to spend with the family and blogging got put on the back burner somewhat.
Now we are back in Northumberland and blogging is back on the table! I have many posts planned on all different topics, so keep your eyes peeled and check back soon!
Much love!

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