The Dying Hours – Mark Billingham

I’ve had to think about how to write this review without providing spoilers.  I prefer my reviews not to give too much of the storyline away and let potential readers judge for themselves.  I’ve checked out Amazon and what I’m going to write doesn’t provide any more information that the synopsis that you would read there.

I’m going to start by saying that I’ve read all of Mark Billingham’s previous books.  I didn’t enjoy this one as much as some of the earlier ones.  The basis of the book is that Thorne is back in uniform after the events of the last book, ‘As Good as Dead’.  Needless to say, he isn’t very happy about that.  All the previous freedoms he enjoyed as a detective are gone and he has to toe the line, something that Thorne has never been very good at.  Thorne becomes suspicious when there are a spate of suicides in the area but nobody else shares his suspicions.  He isn’t taken seriously.

The book progresses and Thorne goes on his merry way, doing his own thing. 

In the book description on Amazon this novel is described as ‘his most compelling yet’.  I disagree.  It was okay but in places the characters seemed a bit 2D, a bit contrived.  For depth of character, I much prefer Stuart MacBride‘s Logan McRae.  I love him and the team he is surrounded by.  McRae is an anti-hero, much as Thorne is but for some reason I can better relate to McRae.  For me, there is something a bit unsettling about Thorne.  He really is the boyfriend that you wouldn’t want your daughter to have, add to that his emotional f**ktardedness and lack of a decent career and he really is a bit of a loser. I hope that Billingham picks up the Thorne character because I feel that he has is nearing rock bottom.  That said, Thorne has been low before and he has moved on from it.  Where will Billingham take the character next?

So, going back to the book, I’d give it 3 stars out of 5.  I found it didn’t absorb me at first but it started to pick up pace about a third of the way through.

I’d probably recommend this but I wouldn’t pay full price for it and I’m definitely not going to rush out to buy the next offering.

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Crafty Saturday Afternoon!

I had a really unusual afternoon.  I spent it painting pottery at Renaissance Crafts!

Let me elaborate…

I’m a member of meetup.com and one of the groups organised pottery painting near to where I live.  I was fascinated.  I’ve never tried it before.  To be honest I’ve never really fancied it but I thought ‘what the hell, if it is terrible then I never have to do it again!’.  I’ve been trying a lot of new things recently, some of which I’ve enjoyed, some not so much but for me, life is about new experiences.

I love meetup because you get to do things you wouldn’t normally do and meet new people too.  I used to find myself in the position where there were things that I wanted to do but my friends weren’t interested so I’d either end up doing it alone or not at all.  That’s where meetup worked for me.

Anyway, I digress as I’m so often prone to do (this entry is taking twice as long as normal to type because as I’m writing, my cat is nuzzling and dabbing me for fuss!). I was telling you about my afternoon.

The shop was tucked right out of the way and it took about 20 mins to find!  The friend who had volunteered to come with me works in the town but she didn’t know where it was either!  When we eventually got there everybody else was inside.  They were all really chatty and friendly which is always a plus point!

There were shelves of pottery to choose from.
There were shelves of pottery to choose from.

The shop was cute.  There were shelves full of pottery and you got to choose what you wanted to paint.

I had already looked at the website and I knew that I wanted to paint either a puss cat or a Dalek! I couldn’t find a cat so I settled on a Dalek. I was very happy with that indeed!

The tables were well set up with brushes, paints, water to clean your brushes and a plate showing how the colours would look when they had been fired in the kiln.  You could also buy teas, coffees and snacks too which was great.  Prices of the pottery ranged from around £5 to £20ish for the bigger pieces.

....before I got to work on him!
….before I got to work on him!

It is great fun and very absorbing.  I concentrated so hard on my multi-coloured Dalek (Donald) although there was plenty of time for conversation and giggles! All in all, I had a fantastic afternoon.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but I’m glad I gave it a go.  It was great to meet new people and I loved the painting.  What a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon!  I’d definitely do it again.

Well set up with all that you need for a fun afternoon!
Well set up with all that you need for a fun afternoon!
How the colours will look when they are fired in the kiln
How the colours will look when they are fired in the kiln
Donald is taking shape!
Donald is taking shape!
Ready for the kiln!
Ready for the kiln!

Boys and Their Toys

Hubby recently built himself a new PC with help from a friend of his.  It is a pretty awesome piece of gaming kit with 3 top of the range graphics cards.  All good so far, except it had a problem with overheating.

Much head scratching and searching of Google ensued until a solution was found.  It was concluded that  a bigger case was needed (bigger case?  This thing is like a cupboard!!) and a water cooling system was to be installed.

Hmm…interesting times seeing as Hubby and Friend had never installed a water cooling system before…..

This was the finished result which looks pretty cool:

Looking pretty cool!
Looking pretty cool!
Orange is the CPU cooling and green is the graphics card cooling
Orange is the CPU cooling and green is the graphics card cooling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see the reservoir with the cooling liquid.
You can see the reservoir with the cooling liquid.

The result of several Saturdays spent working on it, some ad-hoc modifications when things went wrong, new connectors being ordered when there weren’t enough to finish the job, much swearing, searching of Google, tea drinking, chocolate eating, taking up my kitchen table, working into the early hours when I’d gone to bed long ago….

But I’m sure you’ll agree that the final result is worth it!!  It does look quite sexy.

My machine next but I think I will keep it simple and give the watercooling a miss…..

Easter Celebrations

I hope you all had a good Easter.  Hubby and I were hosting for the first time this year.  We didn’t have room before…our old house was crowded with 2 adults and 3 cats but now….well, it’s a whole different story.

Originally there were going to be 6 of us but 2 couldn’t make it so we were down to 4.  I think I had enough turkey to feed double that number so there is going to be a lot of turkey curry and turkey casserole incoming!!

I was very nervous about cooking such an important meal.  When you think about it, it’s just another meal. I’ve cooked many times before but it is an Easter celebration meal and my evil little mind always wanders to the “well, what if I get it spectacularly wrong, the turkey is inedible and we have to have pizza….wait, is the pizza delivery place even open on Easter Sunday!”.  So there you go, a moment in the life of me!

I’m not usually into table decorations but as it was Easter I decided to push the boat out!!

I even managed to find Easter crackers!
I even managed to find Easter crackers!
Made a bit of effort with table decoration!
Made a bit of effort with table decoration!

 

 

 

 

 

The tablecloth came from Amazon and was only a couple of pounds, Easter crackers and chicks from Tesco.  Our local Tesco had an Easter section!  I was excited to find that!  Easily pleased huh?!?

Here’s what we were eating:

Easter Dinner
Easter Dinner
Plenty to go round!
Plenty to go round!
This wasn't all....we will be eating turkey for weeks to come!
This wasn’t all….we will be eating turkey for weeks to come!
Easter Dinner
Easter Dinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, dessert!!

Apple crumble!!
Apple crumble!!

I’m looking forward to next year already!

Chapmans – Canterbury

Chapmans has been on my list of restaurants to visit after it was recommended to me by fellow foodies at work. Hubby and I both love fish so when we were in Canterbury on Thursday, it seemed like the perfect opportunity!

Interior of Chapmans (downstairs)
Interior of Chapmans (downstairs)
Plenty more room upstairs (pic is a bit blurry!)
Plenty more room upstairs (pic is a bit blurry!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starters were scallops and black pudding with cauliflower puree for me, thai fishcakes for hubby and oysters to share – although as usual we shared all the starters.  I prefer it this way because we get to try a bit of everything!

Scallops, black pudding and cauliflower puree for me, thai fishcakes for hubby and oysters to share
Scallops, black pudding and cauliflower puree for me, thai fishcakes for hubby and oysters to share
Oyster, glorious oyster!
Oyster, glorious oyster!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loved the scallops, fishcakes weren’t so great – dry and chewy, though the chef explained this away as being because they are all fish and cooked thai style.  Either way I wouldn’t recommend them.

Without a doubt it had to be lobster with garlic butter and fries for the main course.

Lobster, fries and side salad
Lobster, fries and side salad

Absolutely delicious!  I really enjoyed the side salad that it came with.

Unfortunately I didn’t have room for dessert but there’s always next time!!