Chat

Chat: Updating My Instagram

 

img_5743
I’ve finished spring-cleaning and there is no dust in sight.

 

Cleaning is an accepted part of spring. I have unhauled books, dusted the shelves and sorted my desk area. I thought I had a good job done. Then I logged on to my blog. A tired header, a boring Instagram feed and a whole host of misplaced commas.

 I may have finished cleaning my shelves, but my digital spring-clean has barely started.

This week I have worked on my Instagram feed. Instagram has never been my strong-point, but it had never occurred to me that it might be about more than the individual photographs. A quick Google suggested that I needed to think about the order of my feed. Google, that wise old genius, was right. My feed showed book after book after book, often in the same position.

Top tip: There are heaps of apps which allow you to preview your photographs as if you have loaded them to Instagram. Download one and play with different layouts. 

My first change was to mix book photographs with other objects. Bath-bombs, biscuits, and sunsets. I’ve got them all on my iPhone. I chose to use regular splashes of pink – one of my favourite and most photographed colours – between the book pictures. This broke up the book pictures but was still fairly restrictive in terms of subject. I chose to add a free choice for every fourth photograph.

I have been delighted with the response. I’ve had a couple of compliments, and more comments in a day that I used to get in a week. My Instagram may not be swoon-worthy, but it looks less sorry for itself. It allows more flexibility in terms of subject and reflects my ethos that being bookish goes beyond books themselves.

 

Are we following each other on Instagram? Check mine out at  @BookMurmuration, and leave your handle below. Look forward to seeing your pictures.

Advertisements
Bath · Chat

Bath Products: SOAPerfect Cumbria

img_5742

Regular readers will know that I am a big believer in Bath, Book, Bed. Reading is about the whole experience. I love bath products anyways, most especially brightly-coloured bath bombs.

I was lucky enough to win some bath products in a draw run by Fraser’s Fun House. Even better than that, the products come from SOAPerfect Cumbria, a small business situated in my county. I am a big believer in supporting small businesses and was very excited to find out about SOAPefect.

Everyone dreams of being set a bundle of bath bombs.

The products were beautifully laid out in a round box. I was thrilled that the box contained a picture book illustration because that felt so appropriate to my love of kidlit. SOAPerfect can put together bundles for special occasions. This would make a lovely gift and would be the perfect treat for somebody in need of some me-time.

img_5757The Coconut Lime Sorbet Giant Whirly Fizzy Bomb was a particular favourite. All bath bombs should be this size. Think chocolate-orange size. It sits nicely in one palm but is big enough that it is satisfying to cup both hands around. The lime came through more strongly, but it was muted by the coconut – think lime-sherbet rather than key-lime pie. It left the bath a pleasant springy-green.  

The soap bouquet is beautiful. I would order one of these in a second for anyone having a special occasion. I have run my fingers through it more than once thinking it can’t possibly be a bath product. 

I’m off to indulge in some Bath, Book, Bed. Big thanks to SOAPerfect Cumbria and Fraser’s Fun House for my lovely prize.

 

Louise Nettleton

 

Do you have a favourite bath product? Let me know in the comments below.

Chat

Chat: Do Second-Hand Books Always Find The Perfect Home?

second hand bannerimg_5743

Do unloved books find the right home?

On Thursday 10th May, Mum and I went to see the Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society. Aside from loving Michiel Huisman, I was taken by a single line. Huisman’s character Dawsey Adams came into possession of a book which once belonged to writer Juliet. Dawsey describes books as being like ‘homing pigeons’. He suggests an unloved book will find its way into the right hands.

Dawsey has never sorted books in a charity shop.

I did this for eighteen months in my early 20s. The first time I was told to chuck something in the ‘rag box’ I had palpitations. The rag box is something between the dustbin and the shop floor. Books consigned to the rag box weren’t sold. A company bought them for pence, fished out the treasures, and sold the rest on Amazon. We ragged dog-eared books, out of date reference-books, and a dozen copies of The Da Vinci Code every session. If it broke me the first time, it soon became automatic. I consigned books to their fate without thinking.

Knowing about ragging makes it difficult to believe books find their perfect home. It sounds idealistic. 

Except that line in the film spoke to me. 

If I have been the person who threw books into the rag box, I have also been the person who bought a double-copy of a childhood favourite because I couldn’t bear for it to go unwanted. I have carried boxes of books home from clearance sales. At 16, I refused to hand my GCSE poetry anthology back because I didn’t want it to go to someone who failed to appreciate its contents. (Thank you to the teacher on duty that day who let me keep it. My love of Carol Ann Duffy began with that book.)

Many of the books I ragged would have been sold on by another company. Maybe the rag box was just a place along the way. Part of the book’s journey to the perfect owner.

A second-hand book can be more than a homing pigeon returned to roost. It can be a soulmate. A lifelong companion. I don’t know that every book finds its ideal owner, but I too have come into possession of books and felt it was meant to be. I have dusted them down and stroked their spines and created the perfect place on my shelves.

When unloved books find the right home, they find a place in someone’s heart.

 

Louise Nettleton

Has the perfect book ever found you? Let me know in the comments below.

Chat · Q and A/Author Interview

Blog Tour: I Was Born For This By Alice Oseman

bornforthis

I Was Born For This is the latest novel by Alice Oseman, whose contemporary YA novels have attracted a dedicated following. It is the story of two teenagers, Angel and Jimmy, who are brought together by their dedication to a pop-rock trio. 

Alice Oseman has shared her favourite tracks across the blog tour, and I am delighted to share one of my own favourite songs. 

bird

Alice Oseman: Friends (feat. Bon Iver) – Francis and the Lights

This is such a pure song and really captures some of the warmer elements of I Was Born for This – the deep friendships between The Ark boys and the somewhat rocky but genuinely supportive friendship between Angel and Juliet. This song has such happy vibes but there’s also something ethereal about all the electronic sounds and voices layered over each other. Plus, Bon Iver is my all-time favourite band, so I had to have them in the playlist somewhere.

bird

Louise (Book Murmuration): The Northstar Grassman and the Ravens by Sandy Denny

How can you not love it with a title like that?

Folk music is something I share with my Dad. It is my musical inheritance and plays a part in some of my nicest memories – outdoor concerts and festivals, and running through Dad’s collection on 8-hour car journeys. 

TNGatR is enigmatic. Both the music and the lyrics conjure images of escape and adventure and mystery.

All upon the shore for to wonder why the sailor goes/All to close their eyes and wonder what the sailor knows. 

It is music to dream to. 

 

Big thanks to Alice Oseman for your content, and to Nina Douglas for organising the blog tour. I Was Born For This is out now.

Chat

Chat: Introverts Make Great Bloggers

 

butterfly.JPG

You don’t have to be a social butterfly to blog. 

Introverts. The dictionary definition of ‘introvert’ is a shy and reticent person. In my opinion, this is a narrow definition. Anybody who enjoys their own company and unwinds by being alone is an introvert.

When I figured there were other introverts, I realised being one wasn’t a bad thing. 

Blogs – especially lifestyle blogs – can give the impression that everybody in the blogosphere is confident and sociable. From blogging squads to pictures of beautiful people at parties, it can be easy for introverts to think that blogging is not something they would be successful at.

This impression is misleading. Blogging has plenty to offer introverts, and introverts have plenty to bring to blogging. 

Blogging starts with a computer. That makes a difference. To be successful at blogging, you need to network.  With online networking, there is less instant judgment, and we are screened from people’s reactions. Although I am an awkward conversationalist, I find online conversations easier. Networks are built on shared interest. This makes it easier for introspective people to share their thoughts. 

The second thing which helps is the chance to edit. Before I post this, I will read this over and think about what I have said. I have a chance to change my thoughts. Even in a fast-paced Twitter chat, I take a moment to scan over what I have said before I press ‘send’.  Every picture I take goes through my quality-control before it reaches my audience. Unlike in face-to-face situations, blogging and social-media allow us to edit our thoughts before we share. 

Blogging helped me to find like-minded people. Bookish people. Kidlitters. Aspiring writers. It is not that I dislike company, but I am so happy in the company of a book that I sometimes forget to seek out other people. It turns out we can be bookish together. Literary festivals have become popular on this principle, that we can make a party of reading, and book-buying and talking about our favourite books. My blogging friends have added value to my life, and their conversation has added value to my reading. 

Reading blogs might give you the impression that bloggers are outgoing party-people, but creating one teaches you that blogging is about hard work and editing. Introverts can thrive in a world where self-motivation and reflective feedback are key.

 

Louise Nettleton

Would you describe yourself as an introvert? Do you think introverts make great bloggers? Let me know in the comments below. 

Chat

Bath, Book, Bed – why adults need downtime too.

Booktrust came up with this slogan, and I think adults could learn from it. 

When I was a small child, my mum read to me religiously. Every night, my sister and I picked a couple of books each. I credit those evening readathons for my lifelong love of books.

Bath, Book, Bed is a campaign run by Booktrust, which promotes reading as part of a bedtime routine. Parents are encouraged to develop a pre-bedtime routine to help their little ‘uns embrace the world of sleep.

It is a great campaign and a great slogan.

My question is – can we extend bath, book, bed into our adult lives? Having adopted these routines in childhood, many of us lose sight of winding down time as we get older. We live in a 24/7 world where me time can feel like a luxury. Actually, it is a necessity. While we may not need a daily routine to keep us under the covers, downtime and regularity can be our ticket to a better night’s sleep.

Reading is a great way to take quiet, reflective time. 

I would like to hear from bloggers and influencers about their bath, book, bed. I’m going to invite bloggers to talk about their bath, book, bed. As well as supporting Booktrust in their campaign, I hope it will encourage adults to wind down and look after themselves. 

bird

Bath

Bath bombs and bubble mountains and scented candles. Day-to-day, I’m a shower person. When I have a bath, I’m in it for the experience. 

I like the kind of bath bombs which turn the water multiple colours. Intergalactic and The Experimenter by Lush are brilliant for turning the bath technicolor. 

Soap has to be freshly made. Forget that supermarket stuff. There’s a brilliant shop in Keswick called The Soap Company KeswickThey sell soaps which look practically edible and have uniquely Cumbrian names. (Image from The Soap Company Keswick.

Scented candles are my new favourite thing thanks to Rebecca from Taken Moons. Brave Of Heart smells of coffee and log fire and is named for Gryffindor house. 

bird

Book 

img_5431Do I read? Do I ever. 

Reading has been part of my bedtime routine since the year dot. I give a good evening over to reading, splitting my time between my nest in the study, and my bedroom. Guilty confession – a good book will keep me up past midnight. Booktrust forgot to mention that after children are fully initiated in bath, book, bed, they discover the joys of one last chapter.

I’ve just finished What Lexie Did, a warm and witty Middle-Grade novel about truth, lies, and family. Lexie is from a huge Greek-Cypriot family. Think My Big Fat Greek Wedding from the perspective of a ten-year-old, and throw in some additional drama. 

bird

Bed

img_5439

Bedtime is downtime. I leave my phone out of the bedroom otherwise I find myself flicking through Twitter. Nothing comes between me and sleep like social media. 

I adore PJs and recently discovered nightshirts. That sounds like the kind of thing your great-granny wears, but actually, this shirt is exactly like the kind I would wear in the day except it is softer and slouchier. Comfortable nightwear is essential to good sleep. 

My Mummy is a knitter, a crocheter, and general wool-wizard. She swears by pure wool, which means her blankets are the softest, cosiest things around. I always have one on the bed. My favourite is the ice-cream blanket, so named because its colours remind me of a cone with sprinkles. 

 

Want to tell me about your Bath, Book, Bed? Drop a note in the comments below with your Twitter handle. Bath, Book, Bed is a BookTrust slogan. This article was inspired by their campaign. Please check out their work here.

Louise Nettleton

Chat · Lifestyle

7 things which brighten my February

img_4879

The tinsel is back in the loft but we’ve still got six weeks of winter. How does that even work out? Like many bloggers this week I am asking myself what is the point of February? Dark mornings. Dull skies. Rain. Endless rain.

We talk about seasons as if they are places we arrive at, fixed destinations when in fact the world is always turning. February is part of that cycle and it seems a pity that so many people want to put it on fast-forward. When I look past the rain there is really quite a lot to love about February. There lies the trick. The sun may not be shining right now but that doesn’t mean we create our own warmth.

This list is by no means exhaustive but here are some of the little things which brighten my world. What’s making your day brighter?bird

String lights: One reason January and February hit people hard is the post-Christmas blues. As winter rolls in we string up tinsel and fairy lights. Our houses twinkle and glitter throughout December. Why is it tradition to take those lights down in the darkest weeks of the year? 

String lights are cheap and cheerful and they bring back some of that festive glow. Suggestion: add string lights to a glass jar.

img_4807Book Post: Publishing people. I love you regardless of whether you send me post. You turn manuscripts into stories, you turn stories into masterpieces and you create something which genuinely makes the world a better place. You’re fantastic guys. BUT. When book post lands in my letter box it brightens my day. Every. Single. Time.

Migratory Geese: I live near a salt marsh. From October through to Spring we share our local area with migratory geese. Twice a day they fly past my house – on their way to feed and as they come in for the evening roost. Right now the geese are gathering ready for migration. This afternoon the sky filled with geese and it was the most beautiful sight.

img_3882Kitty Snuggles: Maisie comes to me when the house is quiet. She’s a Heffalump of a cat who rolls around when she wants a tickle. Willow is Little Miss Dainty Paws. She is a hunter, a burrower. Her favourite thing is to crawl beneath a blanket or dressing gown and snuggle right up to her chosen human. There is no doubt my girls play a big part in my life.

img_4881Cosy Boots: I don’t care what they look like on my feet. My booties are like a hug for my calves and feet. Cosy anything sounds about right. Onesies, leggings and bobble hats are all welcome here.

Bath stuffs: The Body Shop outlet sold off Christmas bubble bath in bundles. I kid you not. Our bathroom is all about frosted plum and vanilla chai. They smell so nice it is a wonder we ever emerge from our bubbly kingdoms.

 

Monty Don:  As much as I love the Solway it isn’t the sunniest place in the world. No worries – Monty Don is bringing paradise gardens right to my living room. Did you know pavilions came into being because nomadic people based them on tents? Dream fodder. 

 

What is brightening your world? Perhaps you enjoy the long, dark nights? Let me know in the comments below.