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While My Eyes Were Closed – Linda Green

I picked this up as a buy one get one half price deal and hadn’t heard anything about it beforehand. It is a “number 1 best seller” according to the blurb by an author who has written The Mummyfesto, 10 Reasons Not To Fall In Love and The Marriage Mender amongst others.

The story revolves around a busy mother, Lisa, who takes her child Ella to the park to play hide and seek before going home after picking her up from her parents’ house. When she is walking towards the tree to do her counting to 100 she takes a quick call on her mobile then continues to let Ella hide by finishing the count as promised. When she opens her eyes she can’t see her little girl and after looking in all the usual hiding spots asks for other people in the park to help her. Eventually she calls the Police and at this point the sinister nature of the disappearance plays out.

Each chapter is written by different characters – the mother Lisa, the abductor “The Piano Lady” and the abductor’s son. Because the reader finds out early on who took the little girl this is another whydoneit but there is a conceit towards the end that didn’t work for me because it was all so obvious. Personally I think that if you are going to use a “reveal” scenario then the reveal should be more of a shock and not one guessable towards the first third of the book.

Another pool read for all that.


The low drizzly cloud

resembled smoke –

Smothering the water –

As the car came round the bend.

Heroic d(r)ivers searched

In the gloomy depths for the children


By darkness, depth, despair

Sinking lower, lower into the loch of despond

Lost, forever in the inky-black icy murk

Not giggling, but drowning.

The Girl on the Train


The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train uses the plot device of an unreliable main character whose memory is difficult to access to reveal the denouement right at the end of the book. She knows the answers but they are locked away, impossible to access.

The main character is an alcoholic who spies on her former husband and his new wife – Tom and Anna – from the safety of the train to London. As time goes on she begins to watch another couple – Scott and Megan – in a nearby house whom she imagines to have a perfect life. She is outraged when she sees the wife being cuddled in the garden by another man and when, shortly afterwards, Megan disappears Rachel the alcoholic inserts herself into the investigation determined to get to the bottom of it.

I knew an alcoholic who had very similar blackouts and this bit of the story rings true but it makes the reader get very irritated by the protagonist as we want Rachel to “sober up” literally and metaphorically as we read all the things she is getting involved in just because she lacks the focus to get on with what she really needs to do.

There is meant to be a slow reveal about who the person is who has caused the disappearance of Megan but I have to say that I worked it out quite early on so if it’s not so much a who done it it might be better to think about it as a why done it.

The police don’t come out of it very well but again this is a plot device to give the protagonist a reason to behave as she does.

I can see why it is a best seller. I can recommend it as a quick read, perhaps by a pool.

The Niche, Irvine

106 Montgomery Street, Irvine, North Ayrshire KA12 8PW 01794 683107    


The Niche is the sort of place that suits people who like their food cooked fresh in a fairly relaxed manner. If you like chatting to your friends whilst waiting for something delicious to be prepared, then this might be the place for you. The tables are fairly close together so don’t go there to give away your greatest secrets but the wooden bench along the wall facing comfortable chairs across the table gives a feeling of space, if not privacy. We booked which was just as well as the lunchtime trade was roaring what with both indoor and outdoor seating and the waiting staff are chatty but not intrusive. The place tries to provide healthy eating options. 

I asked for the steak, chorizo and pomegranate salad and was surprised to be asked how I wanted it cooked as I had expected strips of steak already prepared but it isn’t that sort of place. The chef seems  to be a perfectionist and the steak was cooked to order – medium rare – and spot on as a result. I followed this up with affogato, later followed by a proper Americano. This came to a reasonable £13 or so. My companion had a fresh burger with vegetable fries and a couple of pots of tea. Amazingly this was a tad more expensive.


The only criticism is more of a niggle as it didn’t affect me personally but the tea comes in a clear pot, apparently due to some directive or other, and they can only put a certain amount of hot water for a single serving in it. It has the effect of making you feel cheated. Lovely looking pots, just mostly empty.


Do give it a go. Try out those healthy options.


LGG5 Review

Two weeks ago I was through in Edinburgh for the day and decided to pop into the EE store on Princes Street as I was due an upgrade. After looking at various models of phone I chose to go for the LGG5 because the camera functionality is important to me. The chap who sold it to me couldn’t have been nicer and when I got home after a long day moving over from my old phone to my new phone wasn’t really an issue even although the micro SIM is a bit dodgy if your fine motor skills are poor.


Nice appearance

Pleasant tone

Lock code can be set for varying amounts of time so that it doesn’t power down too quickly and there is a fingerprint version for further security if that is important to you.

The camera does take clear photos and although I haven’t had time to play around much with it yet the phone seems to sinc well between apps, especially the social media ones.(see below)

The version of fit-bit on the phone which measures footsteps is certainly motivating to try and take more exercise.


Upgrading installed apps – needed to do that within a couple of days

The Power button has stopped working after only 2 weeks – seriously!

EE through 150 – again a lovely chap called Michael – were in agreement the phone is faulty and will replace it. Unfortunately I was told to go back to Edinburgh to return it. Sadly, for me, this will be a 5 hour round trip by train.

It was suggested by Michael’s manager that I try Ayr to see if they have stock but they are not answering their phone 0845 097 1868 and although I have left a message no-one has returned my call.

So my choices are – get an early train tomorrow – my only day off till next weekend – and go to Edinburgh (round trip 5 hours and around £36) or wait till Ayr opens tomorrow on the off-chance they will have the right phone in stock and be willing to muck up their stock control.

What have I learned?

Newer isn’t always better.

Never upgrade your phone in a shop that isn’t near your home.

Customer Service is an old fashioned notion.








To serve



  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar into a large bowl. In a separate bowl or jug, lightly whisk together the milk and egg, then whisk in the melted butter.

  2. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and, using a fork, beat until you have a smooth batter. Any lumps will soon disappear with a little mixing. Let the batter stand for a few minutes.

  3. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a knob of butter. When it’s melted, add a ladle of batter (or two if your frying pan is big enough to cook two pancakes at the same time). It will seem very thick but this is how it should be. Wait until the top of the pancake begins to bubble, then turn it over and cook until both sides are golden brown and the pancake has risen to about 1cm (½in) thick.

  4. Repeat until all the batter is used up. You can keep the pancakes warm in a low oven, but they taste best fresh out the pan.

  5. Serve with lashings of real maple syrup and extra butter if you like.

Courtesy of BBC website – copied as it may be removed by them on their website.


Basic pancakes with sugar and lemon



For the pancake mixture

To serve


When You Are Old


When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Two Night Stand

Two Night Stand explores that apparent phenomenon of people using the internet to have random sex with a stranger in order to get over a failed relationship and “get back on the horse”.

Megan is someone with a pre-med degree who studied in order to meet the man who would be her husband rather than actually become a doctor. When her ex-fiance leaves her she doesn’t do anything of value – no work, no studying, no paying her rent. Her options are to move on or move out as her room mate is getting tired of coming home after a hard day to find that Megan hasn’t moved from her place on the sofa.

The “booty call” seems like the shake up Megan might need except that she ignores the weather warnings on TV and ends up getting showed in with Mr-1-Night-Stand.

What could possibly go wrong, right?

There’s lots of exposition about why people fail at relationships because they lie at the beginning. Will it help to be brutally honest in a trapped environment to find out what really makes another person tick?

The film is a 15, more because of the drug usage than the sex scenes I should imagine.

If you like your rom-com wordy with a message, catch this on Sky Movies this week.




Ricki and the Flash

RickyRicki and the Flash comes to Sky Movies premier this week. The film is billed as a comedy drama and there are certainly elements of both genres throughout the movie.

Ricki is that rare thing, the woman who has turned her back on her children to pursue her own dreams. Later, once her dreams have never come to financial success and she has filed for bankruptcy, one of her grown-up children needs her support after her own marriage has failed.

The film explores issues such as is the parent the steady one who raises the child or the fun one who has given birth…is financial success ever compensation for being work-driven…is it possible to parent an adult that you have never parented as a child…is it okay to be chasing your own freedom but a teeny bit racist and homophobic, and even what is real love and why do we fear it?

Throughout it all it is the mesmerizing performances of the actors on screen – not just Meryl Streep – which knits the disjointed patchwork together. As one says, “It is our job to love our children. not their job to love us.”

The film at least avoids the cliche of the Hollywood ending where the trope would have been the discovery of Ricky’s talent finally being rewarded.

The film allows the audience to play spot the famous musician and Meryl Streep is really getting in to these singing roles now, it seems. Her real singing performances sound like someone with just not enough talent to make it big and her guitar playing looks a bit suspect at times but overall you’ll believe in this rock chick and the family she left behind.

The film is dedicated to one of the real musicians involved in the film, coincidentally called Rick. Look him up and watch his style in the film.


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