I just finished this lovely book. I haven’t loved a book this much in ages!

84 Charing Cross Road is a series of letters between Helene a New York writer and Frank who works at an antiquarian bookshop in London.

It all begins when Helene sees an advert and writes to the booksellers Marks and Co to request a book. Slowly a regular correspondence begins between her and Frank. There is such a strong contrast between her brash American forwardness and Frank’s professional English politeness. It is both intriguing and touching to see the friendship blossom on paper, 3000 miles between the two recipients. The book covers twenty years of letters between 1949 and 1969 and what’s most amazing is that the two never meet.

It’s hard to write too much without giving the end away. The book is such a treat to read I don’t want to say too much! I just really really loved it. There’s a bit of everything in there from hysterical laughter to heartfelt tears.

Highlights of the book include the additional letters from Franks family and colleagues. I also loved the descriptions of the food packages that Helene sends to Frank and his colleagues during rationing.
There is a lovely part where Helene describes a hand embroidered Irish linen table cloth that was made by Frank’s neighbour and sent to her as a gift.

I think I probably like the book best because I understand the feelings Helene feels when she receives each perfect antique book. I myself love old books and old bookshops! I wish I had my own Frank Doel to write to!

There is a film of the book but I’m not sure I would want to watch it, because it has Anthony Hopkins in it and he creeps me out, also I saw a clip on YouTube and didn’t like it. I personally think a story of letters, about books should stay on paper! However Hanff as a screen writer would not agree!

The book is something really special, a little peep into the lives of the subjects and a wonderful story of character. It’s so special that the people now gone will live on a little bit through this book.

I have to give it 5 out of 5 because I love it!

Last weekend we went to visit Clandon Park in Surrey. Clandon park is an eighteenth century Palladian mansion by the architect Giacomo Leoni, set in beautiful gardens and owned by the National Trust. The house was originally owned by the Onslow family, who still own the surrounding land.

We had such a lovely day and as well as getting my history fix there was loads for my 6-year-old daughter to do. On arriving we were told that for £2.50 they were offering short pony rides for the children. My daughter loved this and we only had to queue for about ten minutes for her turn. While we waiting there were fabulous views of the back of the house and we were right next to a meadow full of beautiful daffodils.

After the pony ride we had a look at the grotto and the Maori meeting-house that was brought over from New Zealand by the  Onslow (the then owners) family in 1892.

Because it was mothers day they were offering children the chance to make small posies for their mums, which was a really nice touch. My daughter really enjoyed selecting some flowers and putting them together for me, with the help of the volunteers.

The house is fabulous, Leoni is a particularly significant architect and you can see why. I was really impressed by how many rooms were open to the public. The collections of furniture and porcelain are amazing and as usual all the volunteers were informative and helpful.

The highlight of the house would have to be the state bedroom with the original early eighteenth century bed. The volunteer informed us that despite being a state bedroom the only royal to ever sleep there had been a french princess. The marble hall is also very impressive and features an amzing ceiling and sculptures.

I was impressed that my daughter was given a quiz to walk round the house with which really encouraged her to take in the details of the house. There was also a table half way through with some colouring and word searches for the children. I really like the fact that children have been catered for, allowing me to have more time looking at the house.

We had a quick bite to eat in the restaurant after looking round. it was a busy day and there wasnt much left in the way of sandwiches, but I did have a very nice cup of tea.

I would recommend this day out to adults and children, although catering well for children it would still be fun to come without them and I also felt that children were encouraged to appreciate the house rather than mess about and be a distraction.

I took a few pictures on my I Phone but next time will try and take my SLR to get some better snaps.

At the moment I am absolutely loving Instagram. Instagram in a photo sharing app for I phone. You can use it to add nostalgic effects to your photos, creating something really beautiful.

What I particularly love about Instagram is that people take a completely different type of photo to those that you would usually share. The photos are seldom of people and can be anything from a cat, to a meal, to a place. I really enjoy seeing the creative side of people coming out, be it a picture of something that someone has baked or a lovely item that has been found or made.

A lot of the pictures I take using instagram are little things that I wouldn’t normally take a picture of, little snapshots of everyday life, and I love the vintage effects that make everything look that little bit more special.

I’ve compiled a few of my most recent instgram pics, and I think they say more about me and what I spend my time doing than you could ever get from a Facebook status update.

I have just finished this incredible book. Its one I have always wanted to read. The book tells the story of Samuel Pepys who is famous for writing a detailed diary of his life and the events that surrounded him during the 1660s. He came from humbles beginnings to being the secretary of the admiralty. He had a fascinating personal life and witnessed some of the most significant events of his time.  I have read an abridged version of Pepys’ diary and wanted to know more about Pepys’ later life.

To write a book about someone like Pepys is a huge undertaking. Anyone who has read his famous diaries already feels like they know him so well. However the diaries really only cover a relatively short period of his life. The diaries are so hugely significant because of when they were written. They are one of the primary sources for anyone wishing to research the restoration, the great plague and the fire of London. They are also significant in their descriptions of everyday life in restoration England and their frank honesty about Pepys personal life. Claire Tomalin has done a fabulous job of piecing together Pepys’s life into an interesting and readable story.

This book is an amazing companion to the diaries. It fills in all the gaps. I loved reading about Pepys’s family background and his amazing career path. It was so interesting to read about his life after his wife’s death and his old age.

The highlight of the book for me was the final chapter in which Tomalin tells us how the diaries went undiscovered for so long and how it wasn’t until the 1970s that they were published in full. I just found it amazing that they sat in a book shelf un read for so long.

I am now desperate to read Tomalin’s other biographies, especially Charles Dickens and Mrs Jordan.

I give this book a 5 out of 5

Anyone who knows me well will know about my huge interest in princess Charlotte of Wales, the daughter of The Prince Regent (later George IV) who died in childbirth in 1816.

Detail of Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales,

George Dawe, 1817, National Portrait Gallery, London


She is massively significant in history. Had she not died there would have been no queen Victoria, there would be no Queen Elizabeth now. And yet she has almost been lost in time. Her short life now confined to history books. I have always been fascinated by her and the thought of what could have been had she not died. I have sought out every book I can find on her including books from the time of her death. I have visited Claremont in Esher, where she once lived and been to see her portraits at galleries. One of the most amazing things I saw was her baby shoes which were on display at Kensington Palace recently.

Today I heard that the Royal Pavillion, former home of her father is hosting an exhibition all about her. I cannot wait to go. The exhibition contains a mixture of Charlotte souvenirs from her birth and death, clothes, paintings and other material relating to her life. Many items are borrowed from the Royal Collection and other museums and galleries.

For those of you who don’t know much about Charlotte, she was born in 1896 the daughter of George and his wife Caroline of Brunswick. Her parents loathed each other and the marriage was over within a year. Charlotte was torn between her warring parents throughout her life.

Charlotte is significant because she was the only legitimate granddaughter of George III. After her death the princess George’s siblings rushed to produce an heir, resulting in the birth of queen Victoriadaughter of the Duke of Kent. In other words Victoria would not even have been born had Charlotte not died.

Charlottle went on to marry Prince Leopold of Saxe Coburg, and lived happily for a very short time in Esher before dying shortly after giving birth to a dead son.

The loss was huge to the country, thereas a long period of shock and mourning. Charlotte was burried at St Georges Chapel in Windsor with her son at her feet. This amazing monument payed for by the public stands there in her honour.

I’ll probably write a bit more about Charlotte in a future post. And I’ll definitely be going to the exhibition and writing all about it as soon as possible.