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Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Tuesday Titles 162..



It's been a while since I've had the chance to do a fair amount of reading. When I'm at home, there always seems to be something else I *should* be doing, so I often let it slide. However, when I was in France recently, I had a lot of time to spare (on trains, buses, the metro, waiting in lines, etc) and little else to do, so I managed to work my way through a decent number of books. Here's a round up of some of the things I've read lately:

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  • The Hunting Party: I really enjoyed this. Set up like an old-school murder mystery, your typical group of friends are on holiday in a remote cabin in the middle of the Scottish Highlands for New Year's celebrations. They've known each other for years, so naturally there are plenty of secrets just waiting to come out and ruin the dynamics. When one of the party is found dead, surely there has to be something more sinister out there...? This kept me guessing until very close to the end, with plenty of twists and I really liked how the flashbacks to university life etc eked out little details about the friends.
  • Eve of Man: I've heard so much about this book over the past few months that it was top of my list of things to read. The world as we know it has changed, as one day all babies born are boys. Things stay this way for more than fifty years and the world is in a panic. One girl, born into these crazy conditions is protected high up in a towered complex, surrounded by sky. Her only interaction is with a virtual reality assistant, or the group of nuns who are tasked with looking after her. But the world is relying on Eve - the human race relies on her and they need to find a suitor. But there is also a group of people who are determined to see Eve freed from her tower. I really enjoyed the fast pace and feeling as though I was part of the dystopian world. Can't wait for the next part of the series.
  • I Invited Her In: It's been years since you last spoke to your best friend from university days. You'd been so close at the time, but life moves on and you both lose touch. Suddenly, an email out of the blue asking if she could stay for a couple of days. What would you do? Mel extends an invite to her old friend Abi and welcomes her into her family home. But what can she really know about who Mel is these days? Billed as a dark and unsettling thriller, I have to say I had high hopes for this, but thought it fell a little flat. Shocking twists which turned out to be fairly predictable, I wanted to enjoy this more than I did.
  • Baxter's Requiem: This was charming. A tale about a man, living our his twilight years in a care home. Upon getting some news about his ailing health, he decides that now is the time to go on a final adventure. He enlists the help of the hapless Greg, plodding but conscientious care home assistant, to carry his bags. Baxter, clearly used to the finer things in life, is an eccentric character whose secrets are revealed over the course of his trip. I liked the snappy dialogue in this, as well as the way in which things resolved themselves at the end.
  • The Distance: Have you ever met someone online who just "got" you? The great thing about the internet is that it can connect you with those people you have common interests with. The bad thing, is that you can sometimes fall in love with them, even across the other side of the world. Cecilie is hopelessly in love with Hector. The only trouble is she's in Norway, and he's about to get married to someone else. In Mexico.Flicking between their homes and also back and forth through their friendship's timeline, I found that Ceci's pining for her unrequited love really resonated with me and the way in which she wasn't quite sure where she fit into the world anymore, was one of the most apt descriptions of this kind of love. Another strand to the story, we meet housewife Kate, stuck in Suffolk and possibly entirely unrelated, until eventually things become clear. A story about loves, lost and found, and one which will keep you hoping for a certain outcome right until the last page. 
  • The Wives: Written by the author who created the now famous Devil Wears Prada, I had high expectations of The Wives and it didn't disappoint me on any front. We're thrown right in as one of our protagonists is arrested for a suspected DUI with confusingly fuzzy details. Has she been set up? Her friends Miriam and Emily will surely help her get to the bottom of this. An interesting, fast-paced insight into the lives of the wives of the suburbs. "Everyone's had their vagina done, darling." And a cameo role from Ms. Priestley, herself. Definitely worth a read!

Have you read any of these? Or anything else which you'd recommend, lately?

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Paris is always a good idea..

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Last week I headed over to Paris for a few days of sight-seeing and relaxing, which was frankly long overdue. It had been planned (in a way) for months - the flights and studio were booked back in March, but as for the finer details? Well, I had a vague plan in mind but left a lot of the exact timings etc down to us to decide at the time. 

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Arriving super late on Friday evening, it was all we could do to establish the whereabouts of our teeny home-from-home and unpack enough of the case that we could get some sleep. 

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On Saturday morning our first stop was the boulangerie about 200yds from our front door, for pastries, which we took to the nearest park to eat. 

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Then, we had a couple of hours free before our first scheduled thing, so we used it to explore some of the streets and shops around Montmartre, where we were staying. 

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I think this is my favourite area of Paris - I've explored it a lot over previous visits and stayed here with the THFC girls last year. 

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I adore the beautiful view over the city which you get from the steps of the Sacre-Coeur and even though we saw Paris from above from about three different attractions, it remains my favourite spot to watch over the city. 

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A few streets away is the Moulin Rouge, which is one of the most famous landmarks in the area, I guess. I've got to admit, I've never been, nor have I seen the movie. We've taken photos from the outside, like above, and I guess I'm just a little non-plussed by it, but it's one of those places one looks out for en route to the metro. 

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I preferred this signage, if I'm honest - a few buildings down from the Moulin Rouge, right in the heart of all of the sex shops and erotica, but I loved the neon retro vibes. Next up, we headed to Montparnasse for the next stop on our itinerary, which I'll get to in a future post. 


Friday, 7 September 2018

Friday Favourites 286..

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For the first time in months, I find myself sitting at my desk and feeling a little chilly. I stopped by the supermarket on my way home last night and found myself lusting over jumpers and coats. It feels as though the change of season is upon us and for once, I think I'm ready for it. 

Cool, crisp mornings and autumnal weather always has me thinking of ankle boots and layering up chunky jumpers. Here are a few which caught my eye as I was browsing the Spartoo site the other day (one of my favourite sites for shoe bargains). 

001: These are still topping my list of recent Irregular Choice releases. So much detail. So sparkly. 

002: I guess these are more heels than boots, but I love the bow detail and the dark green colours on them. 

003: These ankle boots are such a classic style that I think you could wear them for just about any occasion. I love that even though they have a huge floral rosette on the side, they still look pretty staid (by my standards anyway) and would be meeting-friendly. 

004: Miaow is a boot which is brought out time and again in new designs, and I love the floral print on this iteration. 

005: Another mix of florals and black, with the scallops around the uppers adding interest and also a big bow on the back of these pretty boots. 

I'm struggling to pick a favourite. How does your style change with the seasons?

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Tuesday Titles 161..

I've got to admit, I went into this moving house business a little naively, genuinely believing I'd be all unpacked and everything would be located by now. Instead, it's mountains of boxes everywhere and whilst I kind of know where the boxes are which contain the things I wish to find, I don't know how to access them. I know it will get there, I'm just clearly too impatient.

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying here is that I haven't had chance to read as much as I'd like to lately. My to-read pile is crazy and of course I found more to add to that when I was packing up all of the bookshelves. Argh.

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But I'm rather pleased to be part of the blog tour for a lovely new book: The Incendiaries.

I struggled to get into this one because it uses the super annoying method: dialogue with no quotation marks, which I really struggle with.

However, once you look past that, it's a novel about fitting in. Our three main characters are Will, Phoebe and John Leal and the chapters whizz between each points of view. Will's main aim is to establish what had happened to cause Phoebe, his girlfriend, to be involved in something horrific. Since he spends a lot of his time leading up to the events being confused by her actions anyway, his thoughts can be rather hard to follow.

Eventually as the story unravels and things begin to make sense, with the reader left unsure who to actually tolerate, let alone like. Whilst it was good to get an understanding of things leading up to the horrific events, I'd have liked to get more of an insight into John Leal and the cult he was a part of. His story was only really mentioned by Will.

I read somewhere that this book was pipped to be another Little Fires Everywhere but I'm afraid I don't see it. I'd recommend it as an intriguing read, provided you can look past the flowery prose and the lack of quotation marks. See what the others thought on the blog tour, which continues all week.

Incendiaries
The Incendiaries: R.O. Kwon

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Sunday Shoes 153..



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It's been a while since I last did one of these posts, and to be honest, I'm not really sure why. Bad time management, rather than anything else. I've been working my way through my existing collection and also finding pairs I'd long forgotten as I go through to pack them.
But this week, a new pair to share.

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These are Mer Magic. Released a couple of weeks ago along with some other styles which also sport a star shaped heel, I was drawn to these overall because of their serious mermaid vibes. 

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The new season IC packaging is one of my favourite designs so far - also inkeeping with the mermaid theme. It features starfish and carousel seahorses and plenty of scallops. 

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The fronts of the shoes, which are made from a rainbow metallic leather, are embroidered with the mermaids and also embellished with little pearls. There's just so much detail on them - the ankle straps have a scalloped edge to them, too. 

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In fact, all of the glitter, rainbow coloured leather and embroidery are almost enough to make once not notice the part which I think might be my favourite feature - the star shaped heels. Irregular Choice are known for their wild and wacky character heels, which come in a variety of different character shapes and even their more traditional styles with the inverted heels, but this is something completely new. 

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The shoes themselves feel sturdy and definitely seem to be true to size (I am finding more consistency in sizing with the more recent releases, which is promising), and I can wear them for a day at work, shopping or sightseeing with no problems. 

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What do you think? What's your favourite pair from the new season collection?

Friday, 10 August 2018

Friday Favourites 285..

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More homeware wishes this week, since moving day is merely days away now, and it still feels as though we're in need of so many things. Argh! Here are a few of the bits and pieces which have made it onto my wishlist over the past week or so.. 

001: I wish I'd snapped these up as soon as they hit the clearance area of the Cult website, as these super stools seem to have sold out in this colour now. I'll be keeping an eye out for something similar though, in order that we can use the kitchen as a sort of breakfasting area, too. 

002: Because one can never have enough pink champagne flutes. I'm pretty sure I can sneak these into my basket at IKEA without anyone noticing, since we've got a list as long as our arms of things we need from there anyway. 

003: This lamp has been saved in my favourites since I spied it in my local store - I love the contrast between the glass base and the fabulously bright shade. I'm not sure where it would go, but I'm sure I could find a space for it. 

004: This pendant light, I'm definitely sure would go in the dressing room. I'm going for a kind of vintage Hollywood feel, I think. 

005: I adore this rocking chair - the shape, the colour. It would go very nicely with so much of our colour scheme and furniture. Wanty want.

Anything nice caught your eye, lately?

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Join my terracotta army..

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A good few weeks ago now, I met up with my fellow #THFC girls and we spent a weekend in Liverpool, soaking up as much culture as we could squeeze into 48 hours. 

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We booked early tickets for the Sunday morning to see the Terracotta Army exhibit at the World Museum. Running until the end of October, this had lots of information about the army, ancient China and how the figures came about, as well as some of the actual figures themselves. 

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The rooms containing the displays were large and there was a lot of information, but also a lot of space so that it was easy to stop and read things at your own pace, without feeling like you were being herded through like cattle. 

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I particularly liked the smaller clay models showing the assumed production line - putting heads onto horses and figures. 

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When we'd made it through the exhibition (and the gift shop), we had a wander around the rest of the museum, and this was my favourite find. I'm being taught more and more about clocks and pretty clockwork designs by my FiL who takes a great interest in these things and this struck me as being really pretty. I adore the fact that the dial behind the face also acts as a barometer - similar in fact to the beautiful Bramwell Brown clock which I've got my eye on for the new house. 



Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Tuesday Titles 160..

Ivy Abe
Ivy and Abe: Elizabeth Enfield

Imagine getting that second chance that people so often wish they'd been given? The chance to put things right. That big break. An opportunity to do things differently, choose the other path, seize that day. What would you change? 

Ivy and Abe get to do just that. Childhood sweethearts who ended up spending decades apart, a chance encounter has them finding one another in later life and they soon wish to make up for lost time. 

But, when their happy ending is cut short, all is not lost for Ivy and Abe. What if they could go back and live their story again? We dive in and out of their lives, picking up at different periods along the way; sometimes one or other is married, sometimes not. Were Ivy and Abe always destined to be together in the end?

I loved the concept of this book. It reminded me of one of my favourite films as a teen - Sliding Doors. That one moment being the deciding factor and allowing you to relive the "what may have been" option. We are presented with many alternative stories, possibilities and what could have happened with them. 

Like I say, I enjoyed the concept. It's execution, however, fell a little flat for me. I don't know whether this is because our first encounter with Abe and Ivy is just so brief that I didn't get much of a sense of their characters, so didn't feel that connected to them, or whether I just wasn't that interested in their story, but I found myself getting a little lost between all of the different story reruns. 

Have you read this? What did you think? 

Friday, 3 August 2018

Friday Favourites 284: Mermaids!

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Even though the weather seems to be playing us for a fool this week, I've been lusting after the seaside. A day trip or a holiday, I'm just longing to be by the sea as I always find it helps me to relax. I think my mermaid-y wishes must've had an effect on this week's wishlist theme...how to be a mermaid!

001 and 003: One of Irregular Choice's most recent offerings; these mermaid print shoes and bag form part of their newest collection,which contains star-shaped heels. I sort of love the fact that they're moving away from their usual lucite round heel, or crazy character shape heel, and really like the star shape on the otherwise regular heel. Pretty! 

002: Miss L'Fire always come up with adorable details, but this season they seem to have levelled up. The heels on this pair of sandals are a lot lower than I'd usually opt for, but they are also in the shape of a fish, so I'd be prepared to make an exception. Perfect holiday shoes? 

004 and 006: Want something a little more demure, but still with a bit of a beach-y, mermaid-y feel? I love the scalloped fronts on this pretty pair of Chie Mihara Mary Janes. And the glittery shimmer of these Nick of Time heels would be the perfect way to finish off any summer outfit.

007: If you want something nautical but a little more comfortable for day trips, or walking through the sand dunes, perhaps a pair of flat sandals. These Miss L'Fire ones feature a cute little sailboat design.

008: I cannot tell you how excited I was to see that these Carpe Diem heels were being re-released. I bought mine several years ago, but everytime I wear them I get several requests asking where they can be bought. They've also brought a flat version out, too!

009: Finally, what could be more inkeeping with the mermaid theme than a heel shaped like an actual mermaid? I do really like these as concept heels go. Pretty cute. 

Feeling the mermaid vibes lately?

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Tuesday Titles 159..



The weeks seem to be performing that odd trick once again - vacillating between zipping by and suddenly it's been a week since I last posted anything, whilst also feeling like a hundred years since something which only happened last week. I think that the endless waiting and packing phase which I'm going through at the moment, coupled with the hope that I can get everything moved and sorted before a little mini-break at the end of the month has been throwing things all out of kilter.

But anyhow. I read some books and had some thoughts. See here:


Everything is Lies
Everything Is Lies: Helen Callaghan
No-one is who you think they are.
Sophia's parents lead quiet, ordinary lives. At least that is what she's always believed.
Everyone has secrets.
Until the day she arrives at her childhood home to find a house ringing with silence. Her mother hanging from a tree. Her father lying in a pool of his own blood, near to death.
Especially those closest to you.
The police are convinced it is an attempted murder-suicide. But Sophia is sure that the woman who brought her up isn't a killer. With her father in a come, it is up to Sophia to clear her mother's name. To do this she needs to delve deep into her family's past - a past full of dark secrets she never suspected were there . . .
I have to say, although it took me a couple of chapters to get stuck into Everything Is Lies, I was very soon hooked. When Sophia's parents are found in their garden - her mother dead and her father badly injured, naturally she wants to understand exactly how it came to this. 
The more Sophia searches through their past, the more she begins to wish she hadn't been so curious. Uncovering a notebook, written by her mother, Sophia is transported back to the days when her mother was a university student and fell in with a crowd of unsavoury characters. Could her past have caught up with her after all these years? 
I've been finding that I'm enjoying the psychological thriller genre more and more lately and I liked the twist at the end, even though I'd pretty much figured it out already. 

How to Stop Time
How to Stop Time: Matt Haig

This was the second of the books from my recent book swap parcel (more about that here) and I'd heard a little about it. Everyone I've spoken to or heard from who has read this book has adored it - apparently there is just no other possible view. As with most highly praised titles, I was a little skeptical. 

We meet our hero, Tom Hazard. On the surface, a regular 41 year old history teacher, but in actual fact, his life has been a lot longer than that. Owing to a rare condition, his lifetime goes a lot slower than the norm, so Tom has lived through several centuries and rubbed shoulders with all kinds of historical figures - working in the theatre with Shakespeare being a particularly noteworthy highlight. 
His aim is to go through his life without anyone discovering his secret and without letting the pain of loss (of various loved ones over the years) consume him entirely. 

Honestly, I liked the concept here but am not entirely sure why it receives *such* hype. Sure, it teaches you a lovely little lesson about leaving your mark on the universe, I guess. Perhaps I'm missing something huge. 

Have you read either of these and do you have any thoughts? 

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Tuesday Titles 158..


Oof. It feels like a rather long time since I sat down with a book and just allowed myself time to read. My evenings and weekends have been filled with charity shop runs, packing up boxes and clearing out my possessions, in between my other commitments, so enjoying a good book has been something which had to give. Thankfully, I've had a little time this weekend to get caught up on the pile and have a couple of reviews..


Not Thomas
Not Thomas - Sara Gethin

I picked this up from a lending library shelf in a community hall I was running an event in a couple of weekends ago as the blurb intrigued me and I got stuck right in. Told from the perspective of Tomos, a five year old boy whose mother is suggested to be a drug addict, it's a heart-wrenching look at the kind of life which can become the norm for children. His teachers fear for Tomos' safety when the school holidays come around and his mother puts him to bed and removes the ladder so that he has no choice but to stay put. Can they ensure his safety without risking him being sent away? 

I found this one a little tough to read in places, as whilst Tomos' understanding of certain events fell a little short, it was clear was clear what was going on. Give it a whirl if you're not likely to find issues such as child neglect, social care and domestic violence too much of a trigger.

Becky Sharp
The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp - Sarra Manning 

Oh, I do love a good Sarra Manning. She seems to have this way with words and characters where she blends them into an enticing tale. And her newest offering seems not to have fallen far from the proverbial tree. 

Becky Sharp becomes a household name after appearing on a reality TV show and what follows is basically a recipe for how to manipulate your way into the public eye through being a "celebrity". She befriends various (mostly) unsavoury characters with the intention of using them to get exactly what she wants from life. 

Honestly, Becky isn't particularly likeable - in fact, it's easy to loathe her - and if I'm honest there wasn't a character in this book which I liked at all, but that's not to say that I didn't enjoy the book. In fact, I'd have been happy to keep reading all the way to the end without a break. And whilst I hate to admit it, I was probably a little bit in awe of the odious Becky and her courage and determination. I think they refer to it as "grit" in more trendy circles. 

A strong recommendation from me - this one's out in September, but the link will take you to the pre-order page on Amazon.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Friday Favourites 283..

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Oh hai. Remember me?! No, I don't know whether I do, either. But, after months of what seemed like endless....waiting, we finally seem to have had some progress with the house move and suddenly things are happening. And it's exciting yet terrifying in equal measure. So, I'm doing what I do best in situations such as these and am turning to the internet for some decorating inspirations, whilst also trying to decide on things like how soon to order a fridge in order that we have it in time for moving, but not too long in advance that we have to find somewhere to store it. Argh!

Anyhow, here are just a few of the things which I've decided on so far.

001: This week I discovered Iconic Lights and the timing couldn't have been more perfect, tbh. They have some lovely designs and seem very reasonably priced. I've decided on this light fitting to go above the dining room table - the pale blue is perfect.

002: Ever since spying them over on Erica's feed, I've been obsessed with Bramwell Brown's weather clocks. Not only do they tell you the time but also the weather, and they're mechanically animated to show you what meteorological goings-on you can expect. I absolutely adore their designs and can't wait to hang one in pride of place - probably in the kitchen.

003: A couple of weeks back, we went to Ikea for a little wander around (he went for the meatballs, I went for two picture frames) and to gather some inspiration. I've been a little stuck on what sofas I want in the living room and was hoping I'd see something which would fit in with everything else we have planned. Alas not a sofa exactly, but I'm going to find a space for this swivelly armchair. Soooo comfy.

004: I think that with this range, Oliver Bonas have pretty much climbed into my brain and come out with the most perfect combination of shelf units and desks. Seriously, I want them all! I'm starting with the beautiful Scarlett bookcase and we'll see where things go from there...

Do you have any home decor tips for me, or know of any homewares providers which I just have to check out? I'm already planning on a trip to Sostrene Greene next time I'm in Chester as their stuff is just amazing.


Saturday, 7 July 2018

Benthall Hall

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Benthall Hall
A few weeks ago, when this sunshine and high 20s weather was still a complete novelty, we were determined to make the most of it and be outside for just about as long as humanly possible. 

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We headed for Benthall Hall. Relatively local to me, we got the chance to wander around the gardens and the hall (although it was soooo warm and I forgot to take any photos inside), and I'd certainly recommend it as one of the quieter National Trust venues around Shropshire.

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I had serious garden envy. The attention to detail was superb and there was even a little plant sale happening. I'm sad that I don't currently have anywhere to tend to plants. Cannot wait until I live with a garden again. 

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I had to look up what "trowman" was and can understand why only one would have been needed in a parish which was surrounded by land....

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Open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and weekends during the summer months and with free parking for NT members (there's a fairly big car park and although their machines haven't yet been upgraded to those which scan your membership cards, you can leave your card in the window if you're parking there and heading off for a walk first, like we did. Also note: sometimes the tea room closes earlier than advertised, depending on visitor numbers.

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I'm always looking for new places to visit and explore, so if you have any (preferably Midlands, but I'm happy to travel..) suggestions, holler.