Tassle hassle

Non-exhaustive list of things I hate about knitting (in no particular order):

  • Casting off – For one part I’m absolutely terrible with it and usually do it way too tightly even though my tension is usually loose when knitting any other part, but also it’s such a slow process. Usually I’m happy because I’ve finally reached the end of a project and I get excited about finishing it no matter if I’ve loved or hated it, but then it’s that final hurdle that makes you feel like you’re Sisyphus.
  • Sewing in ends – I have this irrational fear that something I’ve knit will unravel a few weeks are I’ve finished it because I’ve not weaved in the ends. I say this is irrational as not only this has never happened to me but also I’ve never heard of this happen to a fellow knitter!
  • Tassels – They always seem like a great idea at the time, they look cute, and can really set a scarf apart from another. However, actually attaching them is a slow and repetitive task and you’ll attach a few thinking you’ve made great progress before realising you’ve only done five. I usually ask people what kind of colours/pattern they want and most of the time I can’t stop myself before then along if they’re like tassels with them. Luckily it seems that tassels are out of fashion at the moment so no one has said yes in a while!
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One year anniversary

Today is my one year non-smoking anniversary. 

That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write as I’d been smoking for longer than I’d care to admit and also never intended to quit. There was no masterplan, I don’t use vapes, gums, or patches – if anything, it all happened rather accidentally and up until a few weeks ago I still had a half packet lying around. 

I do remember the last one – it was a Friday evening, I’d met up with a friend and we had been to dinner. I was already feeling a bit under the weather which would overnight turn into a full-blown cold. I got home, had my last one and that was it. Stopping during a cold has never been that unusual for me, as I can never be too sure that it won’t be something worse (once a bronchitis, always a bronchitis..). Luckily this time the cold didn’t last longer than a few days after which I just never started again. A few weeks later I downloaded some apps to track the time since I stopped. So, the stats (all taken from non-smoking apps):

  • Quit date: 25/09/2015, 23:00h
  • Money saved: £2330.46*
  • Decline of dependence on nicotine, withdrawal, carbon monoxide:100%
  • Smoking related sinus congestion and breathing have returned to that of a non-smoker: 100%
  • Risk of a stroke had declined to that of a non-smoker: 20%
  • Risk of a stroke had declined to that of a non-smoker: 20%
  • Risk of coronary heart disease being that of a person who has never smoked: 6%

*So the money saved thing is absolute crap. It’s calculated based on UK money (I would buy them in Germany on trips there) and generally I’ve overestimated the number per day, because, you know, having a bigger number there looks more impressive! I’d say real number would be about a quarter to a third of that. 

There isn’t a magic formula to quit smoking. 

I’d consciously tried once a few years ago and lasted a few weeks until I started again. I also once read that famous Alan Carr book purely to see what was up with his claims, but it didn’t lead to quitting and the guy really annoyed me. This time round I just stopped and didn’t start again just ‘seeing how far I could take it’. Once I downloaded the apps it became a numbers game, similar to me dropping Duolingo once I’d accidentally broken a 32 day streak, but even then I didn’t take quitting seriously and always expected to start again.

Once I’d started mentioning my quitting to some friends it became more real. I consciously used an app – Cessation Nation – and the two mini games from it instead of smoking when I went for breaks and it stopped me from starting again as they had a similar calming effect on me. Likewise the maybe ten times I did have major cravings due to stress or something else, I was lucky enough that at least one of my friends was at the other end of a chat. Up until a few weeks ago I still had a half packet lying around as I wanted to make sure I quit for the right reasons and not because I didn’t have any. I threw that away when I moved though.

Even now, a year later, I’m feeling ambivalent and mostly indifferent about it. I’m not planning to start again because I don’t need to, I can enjoy the breaks and the summer evenings and the pub and my friends just as well without. Equally I’m not feeling strongly about being a non-smoker either, from where I’m standing, both sides have good and bad sides.

Most certainly I’m not the person to preach quitting: if someone does or does not quit – it has nothing to do with me or anything I could say. I’m not the person to talk to everyone who would listen that I should have quit a long time ago and that it’s wonderful to be a non-smoker. Mainly because it isn’t anything special. Sorry to burst the bubble of all newly-non-smoker’s cults. Side tangent: non-smoking, weight-loss, and laser eye surgery have some of the most annoying evangelists I’ve come across with their ‘I’ve never felt so good’ and ‘I wish I’d done it a long time ago’ and ‘you’ll feel so much better when you do’.

If, after all of this, you think you want to quit, too, and are after help, here are my tips to quit smoking:

  • Don’t change your routine. Go on smoke breaks at work? Still go and hang out with your colleagues as before. If you’re usually doing those in solitary then start playing a game on your phone, or read a book/articles on your phone, or walk around the block. 
  • Don’t drink – at least not at the beginning. Going to the pub inevitably leads to bad decisions so when you go and hang out with your friends in the smoking section you need a clear head to make a informed decision rather than giving in to ‘oh, one won’t hurt’. Sober You knows that it will.
  • Don’t throw away your last ones. You want to make sure you’re quitting for the right reasons and not because it’s raining and 3am and the next open shop is five miles away and charges a tenner for a pack. Likewise it may actually be a calming influence knowing you still have some in your bag, car, pocket, wherever, as you know you can at any point have one, but are too awesome to give in.
  • Don’t tell people you’re quitting for a few days. Don’t be that person that goes around announcing they’ll quit, then give play by play updates before starting again. You’re quitting for yourself and it’ll be hard enough with everyone else knowing everything about it. Once a few weeks have passed then it’s wise to inform people and make them complicit in your quitting. If you’re being asked why you’re not smoking, just claim a cold or nor feeling well or whatever. 
  • Don’t boast about it afterwards. Well done, you’re no longer smoking, but that doesn’t make you any better than a smoker so don’t even get on that high horse.
  • Download an app. The one I primarily used was Cessation Nation which is very basic with a horrific user interface but tracks your time smoke-free and has a couple very basic games that are great for a quick play to distract. For about a month I’d conditioned myself to playing a game whenever I wanted to smoke. 
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Karin Slaughter – Grant County Crime Series

Over the past week I have read the Grant County thriller series by Karin Slaughter. This post is full of major story spoilers.

Initially this series seemed just like any other crime series with a seemingly familar cast of people from the female coroner with plenty of personal issues, the cop who is more than he seems, the other cop who is hellbent on revenge and a host of other fairly cliche characters like the addict done good or the somewhat overbearing mother. However, throughout the series it proved that it was more than that. Indelible [book 4] and Beyond Reach [book 6] were told from a 50/50 angle with present tense and past which makes a welcome change to the standard crime formula and it’s great that the author decided to take risks with her writings to not let it become stale where you would know what happens and neither book 5 nor book 20 would be a surprise.

Karin Slaughter is also quite happy to show the consquences. A traumatic event in Blindsighted affects Lena throughout the series, causes her to react unlike her character, and even leave the police for some time. Sara and Jeffrey’s relationship isn’t perfect once they’re back together nor when they eventually move together, but they deal with the problems in a grown up way throughout by talking through it whenever they realise that they are better together and that their stress is lessened just by being in each other’s company. Equally they’re never too shy to go below the belt and refer to previous indiscretions or similar in arguments and I particularly loved that they could never get any signage replaced because of Jeffrey’s affair with the town’s only signmaker which caused their first marriage to break up.

The author’s strengths therefore lies in her descriptions of her characters. None of them are perticularly likeable, but they seem real, especially with their character’s developments over time. I didn’t buy Jeffrey and Sara’s relationship until Indelible [book 4] which served as a prequel to their relationship where half of it is set on their holiday to his hometown and the other half in present tense during a hostage taking at the police station. Playing a sleepy hometown with a lot of exposition and two timeframes of murders against the brutal and fastpaced present tense worked incredibly well and I couldn’t put that book down. I also didn’t find any surprises in their backstory which shows how they were all acting true to their character and it served to explain a lot of motivations that weren’t too obvious such as Jeremy going to church at the beginning of Blindsighted just to catch a glimpse of Sara.

Another strength is the careful weaving of threads for later use. There are references in earlier books which seem minor, but then pay off in later books when referred back to. Though, perhaps I am giving the author too much credit by suggesting she planned it in advance and I suspect it may be that she needed to insert little bits in later books and went back to see what would fit.

Just like with Lost, I can’t look past the end of the series no matter how much I’d like to. As I said before, I was rooting for Jeffrey and Sara from Indelible and thought that it was really well developed in Faithless. If Karin Slaughter did indeed plan Jeffrey’s death during Indelible then I am assuming it is around the time where the reader is meant to assume that Jeffrey had died during the initial hostage taking which I had already found difficult to digest, but it seemed less harsh as I had the whole book to read so I knew that I’d at least get a bit more of Jeffrey in the flashbacks and, luckily, he wasn’t dead then. After all of the brilliant writing until that point it feels like a shock tactic by the author, an end to guarantee a social buzz or perhaps press or perhaps a way to keep Sara unhappy forever seeing I’ve read she also appears in some Will Trent novels. It’s setting a different tone and whilst ‘happily ever after’ isn’t a concept in her books due to the subject matter, it should still have ended differently as readers have invested six long books into the relationship.

If it wasn’t for last few hundred words I’d have no qualms recommending this series to anyone as, despite some low ratings for the individual books, it’s a very solid series with very well developed believable characters. However, it had left such a bad taste with me that I now would probably not recommend it at all.

Here are the individual reviews and ratings I posted on Goodreads after finishing each book. [Add me on Goodreads where I post reviews of all the books I read.]

Blindsighted – 4/5

I was quite surprised by this book. It’s small town, but not cosy. It’s a horrid set of murders, but it’s not dark and depressing. The twists surprised me, but in hindsight I feel that I just wasn’t paying attention enough and should have see them coming.

Overall the book did feel a little bit too edited though – the characters made conclusions which we had to take at face value and nothing to back it up with. I get that this is in part because of some twists involving the main characters, but it doesn’t help sell them to me. It also felt a little bit short and I think the suspense could have been kept for longer.

4/5 – This is elevated from three to four stars, because I did enjoy reading it and couldn’t put it down, despite its shortcomings.

Kisscut – 3/5

There were a few things that I liked about the book, namely the believable evolution of the main characters.

However, things I didn’t like included:
– The really murky story and disgusting story (paedophilia).
– The fact basically every newly introduced character was involved in the crime somehow (I’m hoping this isn’t going to continue in future books).
– The main male character. Some of the things he said made me dislike him immensely, such as at one point when he wished his girlfriend would use her mouth for something other than talking (which doesn’t sound so bad here, but it bothered me the way it was phrased). He acts irrationally for a large part of the book which the writer no doubt intended to show the trauma he suffered, however, it just makes him incredibly unlikable.
– The bad work by the detective. Yes, she was dealing with all kind of very valid emotional issues, but she had someone commit suicide through her means in both books now and frankly that’s ridiculous! There ought to be consequences. (As I’m writing this review I’m 4% into the next book and I realise she did leave the police though so far unsure of the reasons).

3/5 – This book wasn’t as easy to read as the first one mainly due to the subject matter of the main storyline. I’m invested in the main characters which, even if I didn’t like some/all of their actions, kept me interested.

A Faint Cold Fear – 2/5:

This book seemed a mess from start to finish and, just like the previous one in the serious, had the main characters acting irrationally, but this time I don’t think this can be explained by grief, in fact, if anything, there wasn’t enough considering the seriousness of the situation.

I had an inkling about the murderer earlier on (the aircon scene where Lena cut her hand), but somehow the reveal still came as a surprise to me. When the motive was revealed it felt hollow and pointless and most of all unsatisfying. I get that not evening can and should be wrapped up with a pretty bow, but from the reveal I don’t feel there was anything to make me accept it as it felt rushed and secondary.

I realised about halfway through the book that I was only reading it for Lena – hoping she would get better, but worrying she won’t. I wouldn’t describe her a favourite character (none of the characters in the series are) as there isn’t anything likeable about her and I disagree with I think every single decision she’s ever made, but her flawed character and her own sabotage at getting better are intriguing and I’m really rooting for her to get well, but I fear the author will continue to throw her under every bus and, worse, she may be the murder victim in an upcoming book. Also I’m curious about the end of the book and whether this means that she did kill Chuck.

2/5 – I did want to know the conclusion, I care about Lena, and the book was easy enough to read even if totally unsatisfying.

Indelible – 5/5:

Oh wow, what a ride. I could not put this down!

This serious was in danger of becoming stale and formulaic and I’d already started disliking Sara and Jeffrey in the previous books.

However, this book completely changed the formula and instead of just another murder or murder series it was in equal parts in the present (hostage situation at the police station with Jeffrey wounded, Sara there, etc), as well as in the past when Sara and Jeffrey had to his hometown and all shit breaks lose with old cold cases and a messy current case.

The bodycount in this book is high, but also in two towns this time meaning that, at least for a little while, the population of their small town will still have enough inhabitants for a sequel! I also – again – didn’t see any of the motives and suspects before they were revealed which is starting to make this series really grow on me because it’s different.

However, what really makes this stand apart is the way the book ties in with what we know about Sara and Jeffrey from the previous books and weaving that all together with the drama and tension of the hostage taking and the fear for the survival of some. I realised that I was holding my breath reading that initial chaos in the police station. By showing them in the past just months after getting together it revealed a lot about their relationship and explained some of the weirdness of the past books. They became much more likable again.

Lastly, even though Lena was the main reason I was still interested in this series, I didn’t mind her making just a sparse appearance here, because this wasn’t about her.

5/5 – It seems odd giving this a 5 when I gave the previous ones 4, 3 & 2, but I couldn’t stop reading even when I could barely keep my eyes open at night and I love changing the narrative to show the past and present which is a welcome change in a series and sets it apart from other crime series.

Faithless – 4/5:

It was a hard act to follow the phenomenal last book in the series and whilst this book was good, it wasn’t that great nor that memorable. I’ve finished it in the last half hour and can’t seem to think of too many things that really stood out.

Sara and Jeffrey’s relationship is working well for me. There was a comment or thought somewhere from one of them about how they are good for each other because when stressed or worried they then feel better just being in each other’s company which is sweet. Likewise I enjoy that they’re not a relationship without little squabbles and adjustments, like Sara not wanting Jeffrey to question someone at her practice or the health scare at the beginning. References to dilapidated signage due to his past indiscretions with the town’s only sign maker definitely make me smile each time.

I’m glad to see Lena looking after herself and really hope that that will work out well. She deserves better and I think the parallels in this book made her shift believable though no doubt there will be more issues to come.

The Ward family was described really well and I think those descriptions are what makes the author so good. I don’t feel she’s patronising or preachy or anything with her character descriptions both for occasional as well as regular characters. They feel believable and flawed, just like a real person, and it shows seeing I’d categorise most her characters as unlikable.

4/5 – This wasn’t an easy 4 for me, but I did enjoy it and couldn’t stop reading it hence it’s not a 3 which would be average!

Beyond Reach – 3/5:

There were a few things I enjoyed, such as the time jumps between present day and a few days prior and the overall whodunnit. I quite enjoyed the main story and its suspects and red herrings.

However, towards the end the book rapidly deteriorated and sped up to an insane speed which had happened in her books before but never quite this bad. Discoveries were made, suspects revealed where I couldn’t follow logically as the author hadn’t referred to it. Then there was the whole thing with the discoveries around Lena’s childhood which didn’t sit well with me. Arguably Lena is the most developed character of the series and didn’t need this much more dumped on to her character and, effectively, had previous facts of her changed.

And then there’s the ending that I’m still not over. Killing a major character is a bold choice. Killing a major character within the past two pages with no further developments seems to just be a shock tactic. Now the author explains that she had the idea to kill the main character two books ago, but that’s not what it feels like as a reader where it just seems like a snap decision made when she realised the book got away from her and she needed something to wrap it up.

3/5 – It would have been a 5/5 (couldn’t put it down, good story, number of leads/suspects) had it not been for the ending.

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Feeding my soul

​’Feeding your soul’ is a concept I have come across quite frequently from some lifestyle blogs I used to read but I never gave it any more meaning than ‘treat yourself’. After a tumultuous year, a few days of travelling followed by a really hot week with up to 36 degrees Celsius, I feel today I have really been able to feed my soul and I think I now understand the meaning as it’s intended and why it is important. Here’s why today has been great:

Beautiful weather: Today is certainly the start of autumn. Sure I like spring for its first flowers and fresh days and I like winter for its coldness and snow – if there is some – and I like summer for its long mild evenings sat outside, but above all I love autumn especially after a hot summer. There are leaves on the ground, it’s colder and wetter, there are far fewer insects, and it’s time to dig out the candles for soft evening lights. Today is a grey, wet, rainy, cool day. I’m wearing my woollen slippers and a cardigan. I’m drinking copious amounts of tea – currently on the ninth cup. I can smell the dampness in the air. It’s autumn!

Writing: For the past month I have [again] been working on a novel I first started writing back for NaNoWriMo in 2009 which is about a lifetime ago. I had in the meantime picked it up twice but never made any real headway until now where it’s grown and I have developed a loose plot as well as worked a lot with the characters to make their motivations and decisions clearer and fit better within the story. It’s been challenging because I’m trying to have events happen that the main character isn’t actually there for but shape the overall story so she needs to find out about it through meaningful and unobvious ways as I don’t want the reader thinking it’s important as I’d like to have certain threads run in the background. I’m still a million miles away from even completing the first draft, but it’s been great getting back to it and it’s been my reward recently to allow myself an hour a day to focus on it once other things were finished and done. Today I have been able to write a lot more, especially in the morning when the brain is still fresher, and I’ve managed to write some parts that I before hadn’t been too sure about. 

Peace and quiet: I have spent a lot of time on the balcony today. Already in recent days I have loved coming out here late in the evening to cool down and read in the perfect stillness under the full moon, but during the daytime it’s been way too hot. I actually love rain provided I don’t have to be in it so a mostly dry balcony is perfect. This meant some limited people watching, but mostly just meant me, some quiet background music, the laptop, and the gentle sound of rain falling. It’s been incredibly relaxing. 

Just being out on the balcony for four to five hours feels like I’ve had a week’s holiday and that I’m ready for whatever comes next. I finally understand what ‘feeding your soul’ means. 

Posted in Life in general, NaNoWriMo, Personal, Writing | Leave a comment

On getting healthy

One of the reasons behind my recent [yet still ongoing] move to Germany is to get really well again. I’ve been ill since the end of 2015 and housebound most of 2016 and haven’t been doing a lot of things I used to do.

For example my diet this year has been completely whack – I really can’t describe it any other way! I went through some weeks almost unable to eat, others where I lived on bread sticks, others where I could eat anything, and even others where even drinking water made me feel unwell. Before this whole debacle I received weekly vegetable delivery boxes which contained my main foods for the week. I baked bread and bread rolls [not always successful, but always an experience!] and, although there was the occasional takeaway, it wasn’t that terrible overall. This is something I need to tackle and have tackled already – in the past few days I have primarily eaten salads and fresh fruits though that is also in a large part amplified because of the hot weather. The plan is to get back to eating regularly and building up a good diet again without too much blandness and processed foods.

Fitness. Despite being overweight, I used to be able to walk a couple of miles without any problems and even something longer would be doable with a little planning and the right footwear [no flipflops!]. I often chose not to, because of lack of time or because I really dislike walking anywhere without a purpose, but sometimes back in early 2013 or late 2014 I would even walk home from work on sunny evenings which was around 4-5 miles depending on the route. After I sprained my ankle in September 2013 I used crutches for a long time as it healed really badly and didn’t get properly back on my feet until mid 2014 when I joined the local gym to use the treadmills for walking in the evenings where I could watch something on my tablet or read on the Kindle so it didn’t feel quite like wasted time. This year I have become tremendously unfit.

In the past week I have travelled to and within Germany with over 60kg luggage spread across two suitcases and three other bags [in hindsight this was too much and definitely unwise – I have the bruises to prove that!]. Travelling included a 21 hour coach journey and multiple other trains and busses and all in all it was a lot. Each day since I have walked a couple of miles to get things done in town, but also to get fit. My body isn’t used to this and I’m bruised and I’m in pain and I don’t want to, but at the same time I can already feel the improvement after just a few days. Yesterday I walked 9599 steps over 6.5km and even though my whole body hurt, it hurt less than the day before where I did 4k fewer steps. This isn’t a case of ‘the pain makes me feel alive [which would be a whole psychosomatic thing!], but it’s where the pain is helpful because it’s telling me that I’m on the right track and that it is already – after just a few short days – getting easier.

I am specifically not setting myself goals, such as losing weight or achieving a certain fitness level as this isn’t a race but an overall positive adjustment. Additionally I’m looking at things I want to do that I’m currently not able to for example, there’s a 12km walk by the river near here which is meant to be pretty and would be nice to do at some point soon.

If you’re using a Fitbit, you should add me – my Fitbit profile.

Posted in #catgetshealthy, Life in general | Leave a comment

Star Wars: The Old Republic – Revan

Thanks to the fantastic ‘Knights of the Old Republic’ [KotOR] game [fun fact: it’s the main reason I got into and love gaming], my favourite era of Star Wars is the Old Republic. Yes, the seven films are great, but the Old Republic and Taris and Carth and Bastila and so on is where it’s at.

[This review contains major plot spoilers for the games as well as this book.]

I’ve stayed away from all extended universe Star Wars novels before as I’d heard mixed things – some really good and a lot of really bad ones. With hundreds out there I’ve never bothered figuring out which were good plus Disney nuked a lot of it anyway turning it into legends which is even more confusing. Additionally I’ve stayed away from this book particularly as I know that my choices in KotOR are non-canon. My Revan is female and about as light side as they come and Bastila is too stuck up and I much prefer Carth, though that could be because of the excellent voice actor – Raphael Sbarge [he’s the reason I really liked Mass Effect 1’s Kaiden Alenko, too].

I didn’t think I would want to read about a male Revan toying with the dark side.

Recently I read the Knights of the Old Republic comic book series which had been on my list since the first one was released, however, I never got around to it. It’s the first time I had read a comic book series and, truth be told, I found it challenging. The story was all over the place and I found myself skimreading a fair bit of it. Luckily I had the whole lot and didn’t have to wait a week for another issue as if that was the case I wouldn’t have lasted beyond maybe issue three. However, I do think a lot of this is due to the fact that I just don’t understand how comic books work as I haven’t come across one where the art style kept me interested. I did end up finishing the series purely because I wanted to see who pops up and what I’d recognise and it was lovely to see younger versions of Mission and Carth [he was even awesome in comic book form!] And seeing more of Taris. Over ten years later and I’m still not over what happened to Taris!

Knowing that this book was written by Drew Karpyshyn who not only wrote a lot of KotOR, but is also one of the key architects of the Mass Effect universe, as well as the writer of several Mass Effect tie-in books, cemented the fact that I should really look aside my ideas of canon and read it.

Reading about a male Revan was weird, but reading about a male Revan who is kind and nice and handsome and married to freaking Bastila was all kinds of weird and cringeworthy for about the first few pages. After that it got sweet and lovely and I wanted them both to ride off into the sunset [again]. The story itself was nothing like I’d imagined particularly for the really depressing outcome. The Exile – dead. Bastila – alone with a child that may never meet his father [what is it with Star Wars and father issues?]. Revan – tortured for years, witness to the Exile’s death, and then stuck in stasis in some Sith force thing for decades, perhaps even ever, in direct communication to the emperor? None of this is where I wanted the book to go and I’m unhappy about it all.

But equally – as much as I am unhappy about the deaths and mental anguish, I really enjoyed reading a book I couldn’t predict in a universe I know and love. It reminds me a bit of Wil Wheaton’s 2010 PAX keynote during which he talks about having had a free evening and was debating playing Dragon Age or rewatching Lord of the Rings for the umpteenth time. Dragon Age won and he talked about how much he enjoyed the experience of a universe that was familiar yet unknown that he could explore and be surprised by. As an aside, his keynote has made me want to pick up again Dragon Age as I don’t think I gave the game enough of a chance and practically hated my playthrough, though to this date I haven’t done so!

This book was a similar experience. I know Star Wars and could name lightsaber colours and fighting styles and could probably name about ten force powers without breaking a sweat. In the Old Republic I could talk about bounty hunters, planets, key players, and more. But this book was something new and fresh. And I love and hate it at the same time. And even felt conflicted enough to review it with a very non-review!

Also [this was probably the version I had], the book ended at 64% with the rest of it filled with excerpts of other books. Not only did I not expect that, but also I didn’t like the fact that it gave me hope of a solution or a better ending. Drew Karpyshyn – manipulator of emotions making me afraid to read any more books written by him!

4/5 – It’s interesting, even though the book isn’t a 5/5, it’s definitely one that’s been staying with me.

Pssst, follow me on Goodreads where most of my reviews are.

Posted in BioWare, Books, Dragon Age, Goodreads, KotOR, Mass Effect, Star Wars | Leave a comment

The final night

With over twenty moves in my lifetime so far including some involving different countries, I have perhaps done more moving than the average person will do in their entire life times.

As much as I hate the planning and the actual moving itself, there are quite a few aspects about it that I do really enjoy about it. At this point I should clarify that none of these are ever a driving factor for a potential move!

  • The final night in the former place. It feels a bit like the night before Christmas or the night before a new year at school – there’s anticipation in the air, but also worry. “Have I remembered everything?” As someone who quite enjoys the peace at night anyway, this feels even better. There’s the chance to reflect on the history – good and bad – and reviewing if everything’s packed [in my case there’s usually some last minute stuff that needs doing], but also it’s about getting excited for the change and the new place and everything that comes with it!
  • Getting the keys and exploring a new place for the first time. Of course I will have viewed a place and will know the general stuff about it, but viewings are usually a very quick thing and not something where you’re able to really picture and plan things. The first exploration and the first decisions on where to put something is usually fun.
  • Unpacking. I don’t really enjoy the overall unpacking process as it’s usually quite daunting, however, I do enjoy the first few bits to make a place mine. Assuming – as for most places – I move somewhere with existing furniture, it’s a case of finding the right place for the canvas picture of my mum, the box of postcards I’ve collected over many years, a couple of candles, as well as pictures in general. Little touches that make a place a home.
  • Making the bed. I mean sleeping in a freshly made bed is spectacular at the best of times, but it’s extra special if it’s for the first time in a new place. Plus the right kind of bedding can really add some colour, like most of mine is strong reddish colours for example.
  • The first night. Everything is different at night, but particularly the sounds and noises. That first night usually is a precursor of things to come. Is the place near a busy road and if so, is the sound a lulling white noise or a more active. Neither of those are bad as it means there is some form of background noise. How about neighbours, are they more quiet or lively? That’s not to even begin talking about the noises of the house, the cracking of wood or the humming of pipes or housemates walking about.
  • The first morning. Making a cup of tea and seeing how far the sunlight comes into the place whilst standing by the window watching the neighbours.
  • Exploring the area. This is everything from finding the closest public park or pretty area to discovering the best local shops and getting to know the shopkeepers as no doubt I’ll be seeing a lot of them. It’s about timing the journey to the public transport stop and finding alternative routes nearby.

As for now – I still have packing to do and will then enjoy the quiet of this final night without worrying too much about the long journey ahead!

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