Polaroid Now

This is a different type of a book review, as it is about a photography book that is the result of artists using Polaroid cameras and film across the decades. I love photography and instant photography is one of my favourite types, so anytime I see anything Polaroid or Instax, I buy it. However, this book has some images from some Twitter friends of mine, which made this book even more interesting to me. It is fantastic to see some lesser known Polaroid Photographers feature beside some legendary names, including Andy Warhol.

A lot of thought went into every facet of this book, from the cover art, to the gold edged pages, to the paper stock, the layout and most importantly, as I previously mentioned, the mixture of Photographers featured.

If you like photography, Polaroids, or just lovely books, I would recommend this publication. I know it is one that I will return to many times in the future.

I have included a non affiliated link below to German Amazon. If you buy it from this link, I will not benefit in any way whatsoever, I have included it for information reasons.

Thank you to all those who were involved in putting it together, it is a joy to read.

‘The Thursday Murder Club’ – Richard Osman

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you crossed the Famous Five crossed with Miss Marple? If so, Richard Osman’s first mystery novel ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ is the book for you! This wonderfully written, charming story is based around an interesting group of friends, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron, who live in a Retirement Village. They met up once a week to investigate cold case, unsolved murders, until, one day they find themselves involved in a live case. Can they catch the killer before it’s too late?

This is Richard Osman’s first book, and what a book it is! It was inspired by a visit Richard has to an upmarket retirement village. The book was first published in September 2020.

I really enjoyed reading this light, witty and airy feel in this well paced book. At no point did I think it was either too fast or too slow, and even though the characters were dealing with some very serious situations, both in their investigations and outside of them, at no point did the book feel dark or depressing. I found all the character’s to be likeable and compassionate. The clever twists in the book were very enjoyable. I loved the language used by the author. The story made becoming older sound like fun.

I found it incredibly difficult to put this book down, and when I did, I kept thinking about what was going to happen next. I can’t wait for the second book and I am sure to be just as brilliant as the first, I have the second book on pre-order and cannot wait to read it! I now own a copy of this book on Kindle, so I can bring it with me when I travel.

Given the record sales of this book, I think it would be popular with nearly everyone, unless you like to only read sci-fi of course. I wonder will the second book follow on from the first, if it does that will be brilliant as I would like to meet these characters again, if not, I can’t wait to meet the new characters.

This really is a superb book and I would recommend it to everyone.

‘Son of Escobar First Born’ -Roberto Sendoya Escobar

Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction! This may be a cliche, but, in the case of this autobiography, I think it is reasonable to say. The author, Roberto Sendoya Escobar brings the reader through some of the extraordinary situations he has found himself over his lifetime, as well as some of the notorious people his life has brushed up against.

This book was originally published on August 6th 2020, this review was written in August 2021, having had the book on my ‘to read’ pile for a criminal amount of time (I originally bought it in December 2020).

Pablo Escobar is still one of the worlds most notorious drug lords, who was almost single handedly responsible for the the spread of Cocaine use around the world. Before he was shot dead in 1993, Pablo Escobar was one of the worlds ten richest people, and controlled 80% of the global cocaine drug trade.

This book is the story of his first born child, who was adopted at a very young age and was brought up as Phillip Witcomb, he was rescued in the aftermath of a raid on a house in a small village, just outside of Bogota, Colombia, by the MI6 agent in charge of that mission. Over his lifetime, the author’s biological Father Pablo tried to kidnap him on a number of occasions. As he grew up, both of the author’s fathers were working together to try and control both money laundering and the drug trade in Colombia. His adoptive father working for the British Government, his biological father working for his own ambitions and interests. The author is sent to boarding school in England for a while in an effort to protect him, but England is very different to Colombia, and the two locations were not only thousands of miles apart, but, they were also a lifestyle apart, which made it hard to adjust for a young child.

We are brought to the bedside of the adoptive father as he passes on the last remaining secret to his son, a secret that is shared with the reader, there are clues in the book that give the reader an opportunity to try and find the ‘Escobar Millions’.

This book is a story that absolutely needed to be shared with the world. As someone who enjoys biographies and true crime, I absolutely loved this book. I finished this book in two sittings, and I could have done it in one, had I had the time. I love reading about what other people’s ‘normal’ is. In the authors case, is remarkable in its levels of Hollywood drama. I would be incredibly surprised if some Studio has not already green lit this book for production. I enjoyed the way this book was written, it was well paced, and at no point did the author get bogged down in superfluous amount of details in some of the amazing events in the book. You were given just enough details to be able to envision the events, which is a great skill to have. I really felt for the little boy who was living through some truly bizarre situations.

I believe it is the authors first book and there is nothing that I can say I found disappointing or lacking in this book. It’s not a very long book, and each word is used to maximum efficiency. I liked it so much that I gave a copy as a gift to my Mother.

If you like biographies, true crime, autobiographies, or anything of that nature, I think you might enjoy this book and I would highly recommend it. If you enjoy more sci-fi, horror based stories, this is not for you.

I wish the author Roberto/Phillip a peaceful and happy future. Thank you for sharing such an amazing story with us.

Documentary Podcast Suggestions

I thought that I would create a list of Documentary Podcasts that I have enjoyed, which will include a short summary of what they are about. All of these Podcasts have short seasons and are bingeable. I will update this list as I find more. Some of these will be better known than others, they are listed in no particular order.

  1. The Missing Cryptoqueen
    This is about a woman who creates a Cryptocurrency and her disappearance.
  2. The Catch & Kill Podcast
    Ronan Farrow reporting on the crimes of Harvey Weinstein
  3. Finding Natasha
    The story of a young English Ballerina in the 1970’s who is saved by a girl.
  4. Bernie : Who killed the Prince of Soho?
    Bernie, the Manager of the Groucho Club in Soho, London dies in mysterious circumstances.
  5. The Nobody Zone
    in 1983 Kieran Patrick Kelly confessed to multiple murders in London. This podcast tries to untangle fact from fiction.

Marian Keyes Writing Prompt 1

The writing prompt that Marian gave her participants on the 13th of January was: “Like everyone else, he had heard about the events in the rowing boat.” The idea behind these prompts is that Marian would like people to write 500 words inspired by the prompt. Marian does not want to overthink it, get in touch with your subconscious and write whatever comes to mind. I am not attempting them in order given, but in the order of inspiration. This is my attempt for this prompt.

Tabitha & The Rowing Boat

Like everyone else, he had heard about the events in the rowing boat, the question was, how did he address the matter with her? 

Sitting in his car, outside of the gates to Tabitha’s new house, Felix knew that he was the only one that Tabitha might listen too. Maybe. Hopefully. One thing was certain, he thought to himself, life was never boring with Tabitha as her fun, independent and impulsive streak made her both interesting and a little bit dangerous. He couldn’t recall how many times, he had heard her say ‘That sounds like fun, let’s do it!’. However, this time things had got a lot out of hand. This time, she had needed to be rescued, by the RNLI! 

Felix had known Tabitha since they had met through mutual friends years before and had clicked immediately. Tabitha’s life had recently lurched dramatically in a direction that deeply unsettled and upset her, and Felix knew that what had happened with the rowing boat was a reaction to that. Felix understood her, he thought, but, she needed to calm down before things went stupidly wrong for her, she had been lucky this time.

As a reaction to the recent unfortunate events in her life, Tabitha had recently moved to a lovely house on the coast, which she adored, as she really enjoyed water based activities, including sailing, diving and canoeing. From the front of her house you could see a small offshore island, Tabitha was fascinated by this Island, she told him that it reminded her of Swallows and Amazons, a book that she had read in childhood. She would tell Felix these amazing tales of adventures she planned to have, and it seems that this day, she tried to fulfil one of them. Tabitha had walked across the road from her house, to the picturesque tiny harbour and got into her new rowing boat, reportedly, she had rowed out into the open water and then experienced two things simultaneously, the first was the treacherous undercurrents, the second thing was that a storm whipped up giant, violent waves. Tabitha thought the tide might bring her back in to shore. It didn’t. In a matter of moments, she lost her oars and then her boat flipped over. “This is not good!”, Tabitha thought, as she hung on to her upturned boat and floated in the freezing cold channel of water between the Island and the mainland, noticing that both were becoming further and further away. Thankfully some people who had been watching Tabitha’s journey from the pier in the harbour had called the emergency services who sent out a boat to rescue her. When they got back to shore, an embarrassed Tabitha thanked them all for risking their lives for her, and went home as soon as possible to her cat, who she was sure would not tell her she was an idiot. Even if she knew she was.

Looking up at her house, he could see Tabitha silhouetted against the window in her office.  Suffering from a rare moment of indecision, Felix decided to test the water before he called to the door, so he pulled out his phone, opened WhatsApp and tapped out a quick message “Hey Tabs! Whatcha doing?, I might go to the cinema later, you in?”, he read it back, decided in sounded friendly enough and hit send. Felix checked her window again, he saw her pick up her phone, it matched with when the little tick appeared beside his message. Normally Tabitha would instantly reply, but, Felix sat, drumming his fingers on his steering wheel waiting for a reply. It didn’t appear. When Felix looked up again, Tabitha was gone. Dammit! Where did she go?, he thought. 

Felix was concentrating so much on a follow up message to send that would sound equally as friendly as the first, that he didn’t notice a figure approaching his car. He jumped when he heard the sharp rapping on his passenger side window, but, was equally relieved and pleased to see his friends face looking back at him, her face was streaked with tears, but, as of yet, he could not tell if there were from laughter or sadness. Felix lent over and opened the door for her.

– THE END – 


Marian Keyes Novel Writing Class

The Author Marian Keyes is holding a four week, online Novel writing class, at the moment (January 2021). If you miss the live sessions (which I have) you can catch up with it on her YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/himselfkeyes/featured.

I have only just discovered her course at the end week one. However, Marian is posting a writing prompt every day, where she wants to help participants get in touch with their subconscious, and does not want people to think too much about the 500 words she suggests they write. You can check her Twitter account, https://twitter.com/MarianKeyes, to see what they are.

As it has been a while since I tried a writing prompt challenge, I’m looking forward to trying Marian’s prompts. My gratitude goes to Marian who has taken the time to host this class and give prompts for us to try. My attempt at each prompt will have a post of its own, following this one.

I am excited to follow along with the rest of Marian’s classes and to seeing what scrambled mess may spill from my brain.

Thank you Marian.


Bitsbopsthingies Podcast Blog

I have started a standalone blog for my new Podcast posts, called http://bitsbopsthingies.com/. Feel free to follow that Blog if you would like to see the research materials I use for my Podcast of the same name. I am still working on the first few episodes for the Podcast, and I intend to start publishing them by the start of February 2020, hopefully people will find it interesting. I may keep posting the Podcasts posts here too, I don’t know yet. In time, I will of course be adding a link to that Blog to this account. There will be a future post explaining the premise of the new Podcast.

Thank you for reading this post.

Toastmasters Blog

I have started a standalone blog for my Toastmasters posts, called https://toastieblog.org/. Feel free to follow that Blog should you wish or if you are curious about Toastmasters. Hopefully it will be interesting and helpful to fellow Toastmasters. I have yet to decide if I will keep cross posting those Blogs here, I’ll see how it goes over time.

Thank you for reading this post.

Dynamic Leadership – Descriptive Language 3.3

Good evening Mr Toastmaster, Mr President, fellow Toastmasters and welcome guests. 

On a beautifully balmy afternoon during a glorious childhood Summer, the flower scented air was filled with buzzing bees and brilliantly coloured butterflies. I decided to explore the neighbours fields behind our house, I had done this many times, and was allowed to do so, by both our neighbours and my Grandmother. Sometimes I would walk in the fields with my neighbours so I knew my way around both the land, and the ghosts and echoes of the past that lay there. 

Moving through the house, I could hear the distant din coming from Granny’s tv, and my Aunt’s lively yet muted footsteps moving around upstairs. Gently closing the kitchen door behind me, I skipped down the steps, watching the little birds singing whiles fluttering around the feeders and then darting back to the safety of the Fuchsia bushes, turning left I made my way towards the four small steps at the end of our garden that inexplicably lead to the top of a low wall, which marks the border between our property and the fields behind us.

Standing on the top of the wall, to my right I can see the crumbling remains of the pale blue summer house, with its missing slats and peeling paint, which was now used to store hay and nuts for the horses, beside it was the corroding carcass of the crashed Mini that one of the neighbours sons had pushed into place years before with a friend of his. The improbably straight, towering twin trees, reaching for the sky were connected high up by a sturdy steel beam, from which hung the long, slowly, creepily, creaking chains of what was once a film worthy swing, at the end of each of the chains precariously hung half of the old, broken seat. To my left trees were popping up through dense undergrowth, with chaotic brambles reaching out in every direction. In front of me, past an ocean of vegetation was my target, the fence and gate that were the entrance to the horse fields. 

The trickiest part of my adventure was next, it took some concentration to navigate my way across the wobbly, slowly rotting pile of sticks, branches and other plant detritus, so I didn’t slip and get my foot stuck in a hole. I carefully pick my way towards the summer house, occasionally slightly slipping, but, I eventually make it to the edge of my own wooden mini Everest, jumping off and straight into waist high plant life, OUCH! The vast bed of nettles I have landed in fall around my bare legs, simultaneously stinging them a million times. Swimming through the sea of scrub, I make my way to the old, worn, wooden gate. Due to its weight, I can’t open it so I climb over the five solid bars. Continuing my mission for mischief, the rabbits skittishly scatter away from me, hopping off to longer, more dense areas of grass at the edge of the field, that will provide them with better cover. 

I know if I turn around I will be able to see our house through the trees, but, for now, as I face into the fields, it feels like I am the only human on earth. I carry on and cross the wooden plank that sits on top of the year round boggy area with the permanently embedded hoof marks, beside the smallest of streams. A pair of sparrowhawks dance on thermals high above me, swopping and circling in graceful arcs and loops. Scrambling up the bank in front of me, grabbing small branches and clumps of grass, I get to the top. I just need to find the right spot of barbed wire to climb across, trying to not look down as I tightly hold on to the trunk of a tree that I am swinging from that hangs over the old Harcourt Street Railway line, as long as my feet keep in contact with the ground, I’ll be ok. Picking and tripping my way along the bank, I see what feels like my own private, ancient, moss and weed covered stone hump backed railway bridge. Pausing momentarily, before galloping across the bridge off my neighbours land and into to the wheat fields beyond it. 

The contrast from the enclosed green monoliths I have just left to the open fields of golden wheat is startling. Alone, I can see as far as the masts on the top of the Dublin mountains with no sign of man in between. Then, as I am lost in my thoughts CRACK, CRACK, CRACK!! Frozen to the spot it takes me a short while to realise I had just heard shots coming in my direction! I can’t move, my feet, they won’t move. Move, Emily! CRACK, CRACK, CRACK. Finally my feet get the message from my brain, I turn and run like the wind. I can hear more shots, heavy footsteps, my pulse is echoing through my brain, the only thought in my head is RUN, GO HOME! I can hear him breathing, it must be a cross farmer, I wasn’t meant to be there. Can’t he see I’m just a child? Maybe I can hide in the neighbours fields? There seems to be two men, I make it across the bridge, stumble my way along the bank, falling across the barbed wire, tearing my shorts, I can still hear him, he’s getting closer. Oh, I’m in so much trouble when I get home. No longer being careful, just wanting to be safe. I keep falling down, but, I make it to fields behind my house, I can see home, I can’t hear him at the minute, but, I think he is still behind me. What if he is at the house when I get home! I scale the gate and the wall quicker than I ever have in my life, my black and white cat, Patch, sensing my panic, is now running along beside me. 

Running up the stone steps to the kitchen door, I grab and press the door handle down, it clicks, I pull it towards myself, peering into the kitchen wanting, wishing, that nobody is in there, as I don’t want them to ask why I am scared. My eyes sweep the unusually empty room, good, it’s all clear, now I just need to make it upstairs. 

This jumpy soul with the taste of trouble on her tongue, tries to stealthily, silently sneak upstairs through our surprisingly silent house, to the safety of my room with the cool, calm countenance of someone who had not just been shot at by a towering, angry, hairy farmer, who hated children, but had in fact, just been innocently gallivanting around their garden. Nope, nothing to see here. Nuh hu. There is neither sight nor sound of my Granny or my Aunt, so I press on in pursuit of peacefulness.

Jumping onto my soft, squishy, safe bed, I squeeze my favourite teddy as if trying to hide the shape of heart bursting out of my chest from prying eyes, in a puddle of frame. Hoping against hope that the farmer would not tell our goodhearted Neighbours, or worse again GRANNY! My Aunt should be ok, but, could this be the first time that I would be in trouble with Granny? That would not be nice AT ALL! If Granny told Mum, it would probably be better if the Farmer had shot me!!

I can happily and gratefully report that the huge, irate, hirsute Farmer who abhorred children, neither told our lovely Neighbour, nor my Granny, but, that may be because, as I found out years later, the yeti of a farmer was in fact a propane scare cannon and not a human! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the attempted murder of a child for trespassing and the breath on the back of my neck from the mammoth Farmer, were simply the product of a child’s overactive imagination. All of which was set off by a 150 decibel bang, similar to a 12 gauge shotgun, from one of these incredibly startling cannons.

Thank you Mr Toastmaster, Mr President, fellow Toastmasters and welcome guests.

Iphone Teleprompter Option

I have been looking for a compact, reasonably priced, easy set up teleprompter option for both my Toastmasters Zoom meetings and for YouTube videos. Everything I had found was big, bulky, involved tripods and cameras and was just not what I was looking for. I wanted something that I could clip onto my computer screen. Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, I have found it. Remarkably, it was in my pocket all the time! Yes, that is correct, if you use an iPad or an iPhone, you can use the Pages app on your device as a teleprompter, you can even set it to auto scroll at a speed that suits you, should you wish too. I was delighted when I discovered this feature of Pages. It means I now have the solution I wanted, and should I want to, I can bring it on location with me to make videos, as I can just pop my phone onto a cold shoe mount on top of my camera. Brilliant!

This is how you set up Pages as a teleprompter.
1. Open the document you want to use
2. Tap the three dots in the top right hand corner
3. On the next screen press ‘Presenter Mode’
Under ‘Presenter Mode’ you can change the size of the font, background colour and text options, as well as the speed of the text.
4. In ‘Presenter Mode’, if you tap the Aa button (top right), you can adjust the text size by tapping the small and large A’s on the top.
5. In ‘Presenter Mode’, if you tap the the coloured circles, you can change the colour of the background, this will also change the colour of the text. I have left mine with a black background and white text. You can also change the Font here, should you wish too, as well as formatting options.
6. To set up auto scrolling, again, go into ‘Presenter Mode’, tap the Aa button and then hit ‘auto scroll’, the slider will go orange, so you know it is engaged. Below this you will see a line with a turtle on the left hand side and a hare on the right, if you move the slider towards the hare, the scrolling will speed up and equally, if you push the slider towards the turtle, scrolling slows down. If you want to pause scrolling, just tap the screen.

I think this feature in Pages will vastly improve my online presentations. Have you tried it, and if you have, how have you found it?