Showing posts from January, 2014

Gusto, Cheadle Hulme: Restaurant Review

In December, I had an evening with my friend Jen at Gusto in Cheadle Hulme. A popular chain, it’s a place we know we’ll get good food and enjoy a nice atmosphere.
Cheadle Hulme’s Gusto is situated on a main road, and has a full wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, often covered in beautiful little lights. It is large, high-ceilinged, and with heavy wooden furniture.

Gusto has an extensive menu, making it perfect for even the fussiest of eaters, and it means you can try something different each time. We decided to go classic on this trip – I opted for a pepperoni pizza, and Jen a Gusto burger. When it’s pouring down and freezing outside, all you want is brilliant comfort food!

The food was yummy as expected, and we both jumped at the chance to check the dessert menu. Jen had the hazelnut brownie, and I had little mini donuts. They come with chocolate and cream, but I don’t like cream so was given double chocolate – I’m not complaining at that one.

Sometimes, all you want in an evening ou…

The Reading List #16

This list is more taken up by ‘dip in and out books’, which can be a nice alternative if you’re short on time, or have just read a few novels in a go. There’s one novel nestled amongst them, too.
Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Brothers Grimm
This is a full collection of the tales, all really quite short, and some the seeds of more modernised fairy tales. The Grimm brothers were collectors of stories, and they then collected together the stories they received and heard from those people they met, hoping to save a folk tale tradition similar to that of other countries around the world. There was a real mixture in here of stories we now know in a different form, of stories that have survived unchanged, and of tales I have never heard of. I bought this at a performance of a play, years ago, which was Carol Ann Duffy’s interpretation of some of the well-known tales. It’s a lovely little book, and I enjoyed dipping in and out of it.
The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton
In 1913, a young girl is found aban…

The Reading List #15

There’s another mixed list today, as I’m a big fan of just picking up a book and seeing where it takes me. Especially because I’m a fast reader, I don’t mind trying something a bit different, as I’m getting through so much anyway it doesn’t feel like wasted time. Here’s the latest update:

Agnes Grey, Anne Bronte

This has been tucked away on my bookshelf for a while, I think it may have been an extra reading suggestion at university that I never got around to. A fairly slim volume, it is the tales of a governess, and is based on Bronte’s own experiences. It covers the Victorian class system, moral and education, and dips into the households of a few different families. It’s a fascinating insight into both the period and into a governess’ role, and would be a good read for anyone interested in Victorian literature.

Sweet Tooth, Ian McEwan

In 1972, with the Cold War playing out, Serena is being groomed for MI5. During Operation Sweet Tooth, her subject is a writer, Tom Haley. She loves hi…

The Reading List #14

Weekends are perfect for curling up with a new book, so here are my thoughts on the latest things I’ve been reading…

History of a Pleasure Seeker, Richard Mason

Piet Barol has found himself a job as a tutor in a wealthy Amsterdam mansion. The year is 1907 and he is a young man with big ambitions. The book follows his journey of self-discovery, and setting out on the path to earn his fortune.
I enjoyed the ‘bildungsroman’ premise and the overall storyline, although some elements I found a little too far-fetched. There are some quite intense sexual scenes, which were slightly unexpected and maybe overplayed a little, but they don’t keep appearing throughout the whole story, so it does fit with the period of his life. Overall, it’s a pretty good book, but I wouldn’t shout about it from the rooftops; I feel like it’s something that has been told many times before.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

In 1946, Juliet receives a letter from Da…

The Reading List #13

I can’t believe how many books I’m getting through at the moment. I’ve always been a fast reader, but recently I’ve got back into the mode of completely getting lost in a book, devouring it, and moving onto the next one! I’m watching less tv – which I’m sure can only be a good thing – and choosing to spend extra time reading, which is definitely helping me to relax, too. Here’s the latest instalment of The Reading List:

The Believers, Zoe Heller

Audrey makes a discovery about her husband, Joel, which makes her rethink everything about their forty-year marriage. At the same time, his children are all wrapped up in their own dilemmas, and it builds up into a family tale of drama and finding out the truth.
The writing of this novel was good, but something didn’t quite sit right for me. The characters all felt very separate from one another, and there wasn’t much emotion, especially considering some of the topics. It was fine, but I just wasn’t fussed about it.

Any Human Heart, William Boy…

Olivers, Woodford: Restaurant Review

In December, for our work Christmas meal, I had my first trip to Olivers, a restaurant in Woodford. They were offering a festive menu, but as I ate from the normal menu I thought it was more than worth sharing even though we’re now well into January.

Olivers is tucked away, just off a fairly main road, and is quite a small place. When we were there, there were multiple Christmas parties in, which meant the place was very full and very noisy. We had a drink at the bar whilst our table was laid. I opted for J2O, as I don’t drink alcohol, and the others had wines and gin and tonics. The bar doesn’t exactly lend itself to standing for a drink, as it means you’re completely blocking the entrance, but we weren’t there for too long.

We had a corner table, next to a window, and it was subtly decorated for the season. Jenny decided to jazz it up a little with her homemade decorations, which she has had in the office and was taking home for Christmas…

The service was friendly, and although it …

The Reading List #12

It’s that time again, and my next four books have been a mix yet again. I’m just going to get on with it…
The Auschwitz Violin, Maria Angels Anglada

In 1991 we see a violin being played, and then hear its story. Darwel, its creator, was a prisoner at Auschwitz, and made it during his time there. It is a short novel, but powerful, and the historical documents opening each chapter remind of the reality of these situations. It is about the power of music and memory, war and hardship, and is perfect for reading in one sitting.
This book was a bit of a gem, and a beautiful little meditation on a segment of the Second World War. It’s worth trying to grab a copy of.
Killer Queens, Rebecca Chance

This book features three overlapping stories of royalty: an American athlete in love with a European prince, an ordinary girl in love with the heir to the throne, and a princess who stages her own death. There are parallels between each story, and they all feature secrets and struggles, against a worl…

The Reading List #11

These posts are normally once a week, but I’m so behind where I’m actually up to in terms of reading that I thought I’d sneak in an extra post this week. I’m still in the phase of pulling things off the downstairs bookshelf and then seeing what I think, so it’s a mixture, as ever…

The Paris Wife, Paula McLain

This is a fictional telling of the life of Hadley, Earnest Hemingway’s wife, and is based on biographical events. It begins in 1920, when Hadley is a young girl caught up in the flushes of first love, and tells the story of her years as a wife and mother. I didn’t know much about Hemingway’s life, certainly not as much as I do about those of some of his contemporaries, so found it fascinating for that point of view.
This book was brilliantly written, and so sad at times. Hadley’s perspective is believable and one that would have remained unheard at the time. You understand the decisions she makes, but some are heartbreaking, or you will her to take action sooner. Against the back…