Sunday, 14 October 2018

Rustic Chai Spiced Apple and Pear Crumble!

This is the perfect Autumn recipe, made with yummy over ripe apples and pears and spiced chai latte for a taste sensation. It's quick and easy to make and incredibly tasty too.

I never weigh out my ingredients, everything is always done by sight like my Nan and Aunt used to do, but I've roughly estimated what I used for you to follow this recipe.

You will need:




Salted Butter

Chai Latte Powder



Quarter your over ripe apples and pears making sure you core and de-seed them but keep the skin on them. In a pan put roughly two cups of sugar, 3 large knobs of salted butter and two generous tablespoons of chai latte drinking powder, gently heat until the mixture has combined and made a runny caramel sauce, add in your fruit and heat until boiling and the sauce has thickened, allow the caramel sauce to bubble and then gently stir your fruit until thoroughly coated then pour into an oven proof dish.

In a bowl empty roughly two cups of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of chai latte drinking powder and 3 large knobs of salted butter, with your fingers combine the mixture, gently rubbing the butter into the flour between your finger tips until it's formed a nice crumbly texture, sprinkle your crumble mix over your caramelised fruit and sprinkle some more sugar over the top, then bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees for 40 minutes, serve with ice cream or custard and enjoy!

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Cherry Nova: Chapter One: The Awakening.

Cherry Nova


Chapter one - The Awakening

Nova woke up cold and alone, her head felt heavy. Gently she eased herself up, her vision was blurry and her surroundings seemed hazy and out of focus. Looking around groggily she was surprised to find herself in what looked like a shabby hotel room. Cushions that had probably once been plush and luxurious now sat slightly flattened upon a threadbare velveteen sofa, faded floral wallpaper adorned the walls and tarnished candle holders sat upon dusty shelves. Two empty glasses graced the top of a worn out looking antique table, an empty wine bottle lay on the floor next to a pile of discarded clothing and a light breeze ruffled the ripped lace curtains covering the rooms only window. 
Glancing around further she noticed wilting roses in stagnant water sitting on a little table beside the bed upon which she was currently sitting. Rubbing her eyes she tried to make some sense of where she was and how she got there, feeling rather disjointed she decided to further examine the room. As she attempted to get up out of the tangled bed sheets a wave of nausea enveloped her and she fell back onto the pillows. Her chest rising and falling with monumental effort as she struggled to regain composure and waited for the sick feeling to evaporate.

Her head was pounding and her mouth felt paper dry. Scrunching her eyes up tightly she rolled slowly to her side, clutching the sheet tightly and focusing hard on not being sick. After a few minutes had passed her eyes flickered open and she found herself looking into the empty gaze of a man in the bed next to her. She wasn't alone after all.
Stifling a scream Nova leapt from the bed, tripping over the sheets as she did so. Landing heavily she swallowed deeply and braved another look at the man who'd been beside her. He had dark luscious hair and a taught, tight chest, muscular arms and what must have been ocean deep blue eyes. His face was frozen in a look of horror, mouth hanging open, eyes staring holes into her soul. She had no recollection of who he was or how he came to be naked beside her or even why or how she was in this room. Panic set in as she racked her brain trying to remember anything, but no memories fought their way to the surface, it was as though before awakening she'd never existed, no past,no life, just this vast void inside her mind, a black hole.

Tentatively she stood up, still feeling light headed she stepped carefully towards the man on the bed, gazing wearily at his now exposed naked body, who was he? Had those now cold stiff hands once warmly caressed her, had that mouth once sought out hers?  Were they perhaps lovers? He didn't seem familiar to her at all. She placed her hand gently on his neck where she was alarmed to find two small puncture marks, she brushed her fingers over the wounds, they were barely visible to the naked eye. Suddenly the scene before her shifted and clicked into place, in her mind she could clearly see flashes of moments she had shared with this man, she was deeply unsettled to see herself on her knees in front of him whilst he held her there by a hand on the back of her head, his eyes shut and a cigar hanging from his mouth, the view shifted and she saw herself writhing around on top of him, red hair trailing behind her as he put his hands all over her, one gripping her throat tightly and the other her breasts, his gruff voice ringing out in her mind "That's right, give me what I'm paying for" she was even more unsettled to see herself suddenly and  violently lunge forwards and sink her own teeth into his neck, gripping onto him tightly until he lay motionless and white beneath her. She could practically taste him in her mouth. 

She moved her hand away quickly in despair and with it the vision or memory or whatever the hell it was faded.  What the fuck did all this mean? What in Gods name have I done she thought to herself. Scrambling away from the bed she doubled over and began retching. She scuttled over to the pile of clothes, searching  to see if the mystery dead man had any identification, "Bingo" she pulled out a brown leather wallet and soon came across a black and white photo of him with his arm around who she assumed to be his wife, a pair of surly looking children stood in front of them. So they weren't lovers it seemed. Filing this new information away in her head she continued searching his wallet, and there inside nestled among some notes was his business card  "Mr Lucas Warren"  she muttered, running her thumb over his name. His business card said he was a banker. A tear ran down her cheek at the realisation that she was seemingly responsible for leaving a wife with no husband and two children with no father. Wiping her tears briskly away she got up and stumbled to the bathroom. 

Placing the wallet down on the ledge she emptied the jug of water into the tin basin and looked at herself in the mirror, she looked cold...and ill. Shaking she splashed water over her face, staring at her naked body more closely,she noticed bruises covering her upper arms,thighs, breasts and throat. She was so confused and her brain felt empty.....who the hell am I, that lonely thought ricocheted around her head, she gripped her hair tightly whilst staring into her own eyes in the mirror, feeling crazed and completely disgusted with her own reflection she flew into a frustrated rage, closed her fist and brought it down hard upon the mirror sending a few shards of glass raining down around her, fresh blood oozed from her newly acquired cut palm, she pulled out a slither of the mirror and then without thinking closed her mouth around the pulsating cut, savouring her own coppery taste. She licked at the closing wound and felt an odd stirring sensation within her, something was rising. It felt as though there was a beast clawing it's way through her veins, and this beast was starving.
 Within seconds her facial features shifted painfully, her teeth becoming long and sharp, raising her head, fangs still barred and brow furrowed she growled at her changed reflection in the remaining shards of the mirror. She felt strong and alive, she could feel a rampant hunger creeping up towards her throat, she was no longer in control of her own body. Storming back into the bedroom she picked up her cream coloured slip and threw it on, then without a second thought she leapt from her first floor window, red hair blowing in the wind behind her as she landed cat like on the deserted sidewalk below.

Nothing around her seemed particularly familiar. She had no idea where she was. She spun on the spot trying to take it all in, the street names and houses, the odd sounds and smells, she was in a complete daze. A bird fluttered down onto the sidewalk beside her, bringing Nova back to her senses. She sniffed the night air and could smell what she desired, smiling she walked down the deserted street before turning down a bleak looking alleyway. Her mind felt disjointed, she couldn't string her thoughts together coherently, all she could focus on was how hungry she felt and how 
she'd soon be full. 

She tip toed around the corner leading into yet another dingy alley. A few steps in and she found what she was looking for. A scruffy looking homeless man was passed out, his grey wiry beard speckled with vomit, a half empty bottle of alcohol still clasped in one hand, he stunk absolutely fowl but the vein throbbing in his neck was just too much to bear, Nova jumped upon him and sank her fangs deeply into his neck, savouring each and every drop of his intoxicated blood. She devoured his life-force before he'd even had a chance to stir. She licked her lips and felt giddy, high on the inebriated mans blood. Sitting down on the wet pavement beside him she plucked the bottle from his now dead hands and drank until there was nothing left. She felt reckless and unfulfilled, she needed more, so much more.

 In a zombie like trance Nova wound through the deserted back alleys, rats scuttling across her path every few steps, her head was still giddy and every few paces her legs would buckle beneath her, after a while she fell to floor landing clumsily in a puddle, she swayed where she sat and tried to get back up unsuccessfully. Rough hands suddenly found their way into hers and she felt herself being pulled to her feet, she steadied her gaze and saw the blurry outline of what appeared to be another of the cities homeless. He had a kind face "You ok there darling" he asked, his voice was soft, she looked up at him, teeth still barred and he recoiled at once backing steadily away from her, "I'm so sorry" she said before the hunger took over and with one lunge she brought him to his knees, feasting on his blood until he was bone dry, she rested her head against his corpse as the world swam slowly back into view. Her face relaxed and the horror of what she'd just done struck her like a blow to chest, she crawled away from the dead man and dry heaved at the smell of his blood that lingered in her pores. Getting up slowly she vomited up the blood and alcohol as cold sweat dripped down her face. Disgusted with herself she ran, tripping over rats, bottles and rubbish along the way, winding back along the eerily deserted alleyways until she was almost back at the hotel. 
As she neared the main street she could hear a commotion, fearing the worst she edged slowly around the corner and to her dismay saw that several constables in their long blue coats and tall hats stood outside the hotel, a chambermaid was being comforted by one of the policemen. She'd clearly been absent much longer than she thought and the body in her room must have been found. The hairs on her neck prickled "shit"  she darted back into the alleyway, heart pummelling in her chest. She collapsed against the brick wall, staring at her blood stained hands as tears streamed down her face "What have I done" she whispered. She knew it wasn't safe for her to stay where she was. The sky overhead blackened and a brutal storm erupted, rain pelted down thick and fast soaking straight through Nova's thin slip. Shivering she stood up and steadied herself then headed East with no real plan or destination in mind. 

Keeping to the shadows she soon stumbled upon a row of condemned buildings. Clambering in through a smashed window she tip toed to the top floor and barricaded herself into one of the rooms. She piled together scraps of paper and with matches scavenged from an upturned dresser lit a small but substantial fire in an empty tin bucket. She curled around the warmth, trying to get some feeling  back into her cold, bruised body and make some sense of the last few hours of her life. She'd murdered three men. She was a monster, she sobbed into the empty night until exhaustion claimed her. 


Nova woke several hours later after falling into a tear induced sleep. The horrors from the previous night weighing heavily upon her soul, threatening to crush her into oblivion. She still couldn't remember how or why she'd found herself in that hotel room with Mr Warren, all she could deduce was that perhaps they were having an affair? A one night stand even? She didn't want to admit to herself that she was clearly a girl of the night, getting paid to give men what they desired. The memories of events from the past night invaded her mind, Oh god, she thought as their cold dead faces swam before her eyes,those poor men. What had she become and how had she become it? 
She looked down at her hands, dried blood flaked off her palms, she was disgusted with herself. Who even was she any more? She felt sick from all the crying. She spent the entire day holed up in the room,huddled around the dying fire just hiding from the rest of humanity, drifting in and out of restless sleep where nightmares raped her mind and had her screaming out in fright. She just couldn't understand any of this. Night finally settled in around her and as she stood up to stretch her legs, she heard a crash on the lower level of the building. "Shit" fearing the authorities had some how caught up to her she un-barricaded the door and ran down the corridor towards a large broken window, thinking if she could at least make it that far she had a chance to escape. 

She'd just placed her hand on the frame when she heard heavy footsteps behind her come to a sudden stop. A husky and vaguely familiar voice shouted out loudly "Nova, stop!" 
Despite every fibre of her body wanting to jump she found herself rooted to the spot and very slowly turned around to face her pursuer. A tall handsome man stepped from the shadows, dressed head to toe in black, an air of arrogance around him. "How do you know my name" Nova's voice shook as she spoke "Who are you" she shouted, stepping back away from him, knuckles going white from her strong grip on the window frame, her heart felt like it was hammering in her chest.
"Please Nova...I'm not here to hurt you" he slowly took a step forwards, hands raised up in front of him, panic in his eyes. She couldn't place his face but she instantly knew that she knew him. All her thoughts and memories were so tangled in her head, she bent down slowly to pick up  a piece of the broken window, not daring to take her eye's off the man in front of her "I asked you who the fuck you are, answer me" She brandished the shard of glass in front off her angrily.
"Hey, come on now, it's me,Noah...Nova look at me, for fuck sake please just look at me, I can help you" But Nova could no longer see clearly and before Noah could reach her she let herself fall backwards from the window, it felt like she was floating, gracefully falling for eternity when in reality it had been mere seconds and then with a thud she landed heavily in the back of an empty landau carriage. Utterly dazed and shocked at her safe landing she hastened a glance back up at the window and saw a grief stricken Noah looking down at her as the driver returned and the carriage carried her away. Slumping back against the seat she allowed her breathing to settle. She felt so incredibly alone, she couldn't trust anyone that's for sure and the only way to stay safe was to get the hell out of town. 

As the carriage passed the dockyard Nova jumped from the side making sure the driver didn't spot her and ducked behind a building. The air smelt salty and she could hear the gentle lapping of water against stone. It was oddly peaceful. Once she was certain she was doing the right thing she crept cautiously towards a stack of large cargo boxes and looked out at the vastness of the sea, she inhaled deeply. She was in awe at the size of the steamship docked, it was a thing of beauty and looked like it was being loaded up ready to cross the Atlantic. Nova waited patiently until she was sure the coast was clear before running towards the nearest crate, she carefully pried the lid to one side then clambered in, praying she ended up somewhere safe...and hopefully dry. 
She pulled the lid of the crate back across, slotting it into place, then she nestled down into the darkness, piling the packing materials over her body, she could hear distant voices calling out to one another across the dockyard about visiting the local Tavern and figured that the workers must be knocking off for the day. The voices were all laughing and joking despite the rain quite literally pissing down all around them. 
After about 10 minutes the voices had all died down and all Nova could hear was the tapping of the rain upon the lid of the crate and the whirring of the wind outside. She was relieved to be somewhere warm and dry for the night. She stifled a yawn and risked closing her eyes. Just as she was dozing off to sleep she heard footsteps sloshing through the dockyard puddles, she listened carefully and was alarmed to hear them coming towards the crates. She sank further down, desperately trying to hide herself in the shadows. The crate she was in was full of what looked and felt like luxury clothes and she grabbed at a dark shawl and wrapped it round her and pulled it forwards slightly to cover her face. She held her breath and stayed as quiet as a mouse, hoping to God that whoever it was wouldn't find her. She heard a loud thud from nearby, it sounded like whoever was out there was prying open the crates, probably some thief she thought to herself. She gasped as she heard a groan from over head and realised someone was attempting to lift the heavy lid from her crate, the lid heaved to one side and Nova found herself face to face with a ginger haired, freckle faced young man with a thick grey woolly hat sat upon his head, their eyes locked and they both simultaneously muttered "shit"

Nova tried to clamber from the crate and make a run for it but calloused  hands gripped her tightly before she could even get her leg over the side. She fell backwards against the side of the crate and stared defiantly up at the young man. 
"Hey, calm down love, I'm not gonna hurt ya...what'ya doing in this here crate 'eh? Strange place to be having a kip" he offered a hand down towards her, Nova surveyed him carefully, he had a weathered yet kind face and warm trusting eyes, he smiled at her awkwardly, she cocked her head to one side and smacked his hand away "Don't touch me, thief" she wasn't in the mood to make niceties, the man just continued smiling at her and once again lowered his hand down to her, she sighed deciding he didn't seem like much of a threat and stubbornly accepted his hand,with a combined effort of him pulling and her climbing Nova was soon stood ankle deep in a puddle beside the crate and back in the pouring rain. The man held out his hand again flashing Nova a friendly smile "The names Bucky, Bucky O'Dare" 

The Adventures of Frank and Diesel: A Day at the Circus BOOK REVIEW

The Adventures of Frank and Diesel: A Day at the Circus

Written by Melanie Slack
Illustrated by Katie Green

This rhyming children's book is such a charming and fun story with adorable characters and bright and colourful illustrations. My children loved it.

My eldest who is 10 years old and animal mad, happily sat and read the story to her younger brother who is 2 and a half. 

He loved the bright pictures and funny rhymes and asked his big sister to read it again. He enjoyed pointing at the characters on each page and was eager to see what happened next.

My 5 year old who is just starting out on his reading journey also enjoyed this book, it held his attention and he enjoyed sounding out some of the words he saw. For young readers they may struggle at first with some of the larger words but overall it's a fairly easy story for them to sound out and learn to blend their letters together. 

Unlike most children's rhyming books this is actually quite substantial in both content and length, it's neither too short or too long. It's entertaining and enjoyable to read.

To find out more and to follow the adventures of the real life Frank and Diesel why not check out their Faceboook page by following the link below:

My 10 year old is a huge book lover so I sat with her and interviewed her about this book:

1) What did you think about the two main characters? 

I really liked them, because they were both dogs and one is a Pug and one is St Bernard and I really like both those breeds. The illustrations of the dogs were really good.

2) Did you enjoy the setting of the story? 

Yeah, quite alot. I liked how the dogs were on an adventure and in general I loved the way the words and pictures all worked together to make the story.

3) What was the best part of the story?

It's hard to say because I liked most of it but I think maybe the end was the best because the dogs went back home and had a fun dream about their day out.

4) Would you like to read more books about these characters?

Yes definitely, because the characters are based on real dogs and I think that's quite cool because not many children's books are based on real characters. 

5) Did you like the illustrations? 

Yes. I liked the way they were coloured, especially the St Bernard because it was blended from dark brown to light brownish and realistic in a way. 

To summarise, this book was a success with all my children and one that I can see becoming a firm favourite of my youngest two, especially at bed time.

We had so much fun reading and reviewing this book and can't wait to see what Diesel and Frank get up to next.

If you'd like to purchase this fun filled book for just $6.54 then head over to Amazon by following the link below: