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7 great books for reading on rainy days

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So today is the day before the summer solstice in the UK and looking out of the window, frankly it looks a whole lot more like winter, or at least autumn.  For the record, that picture was taken a while back, but it could easily have been today and, also for the record, it was taken in colour, that's not a black-and-white filter, that's how it was.  Anyway, navigating a huge puddle on my way to work today has set me thinking about books you could dip into on rainy days, maybe when you were planning to do something else, but had to stay indoors.I was looking for books which you could dip in and out of and which most people would enjoy, even if they had different tastes in fiction.So, here are my picks.
Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
New editions of this book are investment purchases, but older ones can be available very affordably.I’ve only ever seen this book myself in hard copy and I’d only buy it that way since I’ve heard that the formatting on the Kindle editions c…

7 great books about travelling

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Since now is the time many people are heading off on holiday, I thought I'd compile a list of 7 great books about travelling, which you can read on a plane or at any other time. I chose books which were specifically about travelling rather than books which involved characters making journeys but where the journey was not the main focus of the book.
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
While this is a fictional adventure story rather than a proper travelogue, it’s still a cracking read.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Opinions are divided on this book, but then you could say that about most books. Some people see it as self-indulgent, which, in a way, I suppose it is, but in another way, the author experiences feelings I think many of us can understand and tries to resolve them by travelling to discover the world and herself. She’s not the first, she won’t be the last, but she has written a book many people love.
I'm off then: losing and finding myself on the Cam…

7 Great Books about People Dealing with WWII

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If you’re reading this when it’s posted, it’s D Day, the beginning of the end for WWII.With that in mind, here’s a selection of 7 books relating to WWII, written from the perspective of civilians who also survived extraordinary horrors.
After Auschwitz: A story of heartbreak and survival by the stepsister of Anne Frank by Eva Schloss
I chose this over the better-known Diary of Anne Frank for two reasons, firstly Eva Schloss survived the war and I think the post-war part of her story is at least as interesting as the part relating to the war years and secondly, I object to the copyrightbattle over Anne Frank’s work.
Goodnight Mister Tom Michelle Magorian
This is billed as a children’s story but I enjoyed it as an adult.The basic plot revolves around a boy sent to the countryside as an evacuee, who develops a close relationship with the man assigned to look after him.Then the boy is summoned back to London but his return does not quite go as intended.
The Book Thief Markus Zusak
This is anoth…

7 great books involving gardens and flowers

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Today is Water a Flower Day, at least if you live in the U.S. so in celebration, I’ve put together a list of 7 great books involving gardens and flowers.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Intended for children, but still a wonderful read for adults, it’s the story of how the discovery of a secret garden healed two children, one of loneliness and arrogance and another of hypochondria, together with a grown man with a broken heart.
The Jewel Garden: A Story of Despair and Redemption by Monty Don and Sarah Don
This is part biography and part garden management manual. Both parts are fascinating.
The Gardens That Mended A Marriage by Karen Moloney
You might think that creating a Persian garden in a place like Spain would be easy enough. After all, the climates aren’t that different. According to Karen Moloney, however, you would probably be wrong, but the act of trying might make you a stronger person and might help you to understand and nurture relationships better.
The Country Dia…

10 fun questions on literary Edinburgh

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This picture was taken right beside the entrance to an Edinburgh street used as the title of an Ian Rankin novel.Name the street/book.
Scottish surgeon, Joseph Bell, taught at Edinburgh University and was the inspiration for a famous detective created by Edinburgh-born author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Name the character.
Author Daphne Du Maurier and her family were the inspiration for the Darling family, created by Edinburgh-born author JM Barrie in what book?
What writer is based in Edinburgh but has a series of popular novels set in Africa?
This year (2018) marks 100 years since the birth of an author whose childhood in Edinburgh provided the inspiration for her most famous book, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.Who is she?
Greyfriars Kirkyard is the last resting place of many Edinburgh residents including a Mr Tom Riddle, a famous author used it for help when creating character names.Who was she?
The author of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde didn’t want to be remembered with a statue, but wound …

Sandwich-free packed lunches for warmer weather

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Even where I live (Scotland) the breaks between rain showers are getting longer, in fact we’ve even had a few days where there hasn’t been any rain at all. In other words, the weather’s as good as it gets for eating outdoors and even when that’s not really an option, packed lunches have a lot to be said for them. It’s not just the fact that they can be so affordable, they save you queuing, plus you know exactly what you’re eating and drinking. Nevertheless, I still see loads of people buying convenience food because they “don’t have time” to make a packed lunch in the mornings, well the answer to this is to move away from the traditional sandwiched-based packed lunch and start making packed lunches which will keep perfectly happily overnight, so you just need to pick them up in the morning. Here are some ideas for sandwich-free packed lunches for warmer weather.
Start with the right containers
If you’re planning (or hoping) to make a packed lunch regularly, then invest in some pr…

Five quick tips to beat everyday stress

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If you’re suffering from any sort of mental health issue which is causing you serious problems, then you need to get help of some sort. If, however, you’re simply facing everyday stresses, from exam nerves to people getting on your nerves, then there are some quick tips you can use to deal with it. Acknowledge your stress and recognize its beneficial intent Stress is your mind letting you know that it thinks you need to take better care of yourself and get out of what it perceives as a dangerous, or at least uncomfortable, situation. When you feel yourself starting to get stressed, acknowledge the fact, acknowledge the cause and commit to dealing with it either immediately or later. Ideally you want to deal with stress as soon as possible, but if that’s not practical, the very act of making a promise to yourself to do something later to improve the situation can help to feel calmer in the present. Accept that stress can be irrational and that is fine Stress can be like a (hopefull…