Hope you’re well and that you’re having a lovely week 🙂
So, Gareth and I embarked on our wonderful honeymoon in late September – it was my first ever trip abroad, and it couldn’t have been more amazing!
We ventured to Rhodes, where the crystal clear sea sparkled under blazing autumn sun…
Upon our arrival at the incredible hotel, we were greeted with champagne and the fantastic staff gifted us with a fabulous room upgrade – which meant we enjoyed a shared private pool and a beautifully decorated suite 😀
The food was excellent, especially given my lactose intolerance, vegetarian preferences, and general fussy eating – the hotel staff were so accommodating and welcoming; we couldn’t have asked for better; they even organised a cake on our last day, as it was my birthday!
Another benefit of the setting we chose for our honeymoon was the abundance of exotic wildlife and the spectacular scenery that took our breath away at every turn…
I also fought against my body confidence issues by trying out some new clothing styles, and even wearing bikinis!
Gareth and I also ventured to Lindos – what an incredible place. Lindos is steeped in history and aglow with Greek mythology…
What an adventure my husband and I had in Rhodes – we’re incredibly lucky and infinitely grateful to have found each other and be able to enjoy such awe-inspiring experiences together <3
Thank you, once again, for your continued support 🙂
Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! 🙂
As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.
Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).
I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.
Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post 🙂
“An international phenomenon and pop-culture classic, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has been a radio show, TV series, novel, stage play, comic book and film. Following the galactic (mis)adventures of Arthur Dent, Hitchhiker’s in its various incarnations has captured the imaginations of curious minds around the world . . .
It’s an ordinary Thursday lunchtime for Arthur Dent until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly afterwards to make way for a new hyperspace express route, and his best friend has just announced that he’s an alien. At this moment, they’re hurtling through space with nothing but their towels and an innocuous-looking book inscribed, in large friendly letters, with the words: DON’T PANIC.
The weekend has only just begun . . .
With exclusive bonus material from the Douglas Adams archives, and an introduction by former Doctor Who showrunner, Russell T Davies.
The intergalactic adventures of Arthur Dent begin in the first volume of the ‘trilogy of five’, Douglas Adams’ comedy sci-fi classic The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.“
One of my favourite books, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a work of literary genius. This book is so incredibly ridiculous that I have laughed out loud at the hilarity of it time and again!
If you enjoy straightforward stories with a clear beginning, middle and end, this is not the book for you. This book is about as unconventional as advising the use of a towel in emergency situations, but that is exactly the catalyst of its brilliance.
Where to begin about the plot, storylines, and characterisation? Adams has created an incredibly diverse universe packed with complex detail, yet the complexity of it all is overcome by the ironically down-to-earth style in which the narrative is written. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy follows Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect along a series of misadventures following the destruction of Earth to clear the way for a Vogon hyperspace bypass.
I cannot decide which character is my favourite, as they’re all so wonderfully written, though I can’t help but empathise with Marvin – the Paranoid Android. He’s a fascinating character whose astounding level of intelligence is continually underestimated; in a way, I wonder whether he’s a subtle reflection of the reaction to humanity’s inability to realise their own intelligence…
Dialogue is realistic, scenery is cleverly crafted, and the characters – whilst wildly wacky – are so believable that it’s difficult to imagine that they don’t exist out there, somewhere.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a truly inspirational work of science fiction that I recommend if you enjoy sci-fi, comedy, or out-of-this-world adventures!
Two words unlikely to appear in the same sentence, yet have a fascinating connection, are ‘inspiration’ and ‘silliness’.
When we feel inspired it’s supposed to move us, to motivate us, to keep us moving forward in our lives. Whereas silliness seems to have little substance in adult life, apart from acceptance on television or during peer-pressured drunkenness.
So you may be wondering why I have chosen to write a blog post about these words.
Well, now I’ve officially been an adult for over a decade, I have learned many valuable lessons – one of the most interesting being that silliness can evolve into inspiration.
Anyone who knows me knows I love to make people smile and laugh. It drives me to do all I can to make our world a brighter, more cheerful, kinder place. Although it happens frequently, I still get a wonderful buzz when someone approaches me for help or advice. And to be able earn a living doing something I’m passionate about, whilst making other people’s dreams come true, is an honour as well as a privilege.
A lot of the time adult life calls for us to be serious. Whether that’s maintaining professional mannerisms when dealing with clients, or deciding which provider to choose for your mortgage, or even managing the expectations of those around you because even though you love them dearly and know they love you no-matter what, you still don’t want to disappoint them. All this seriousness means we live 90% of our lives in a heightened state of stress – the other 10% is spent sleeping, or trying to sleep. Some people deal with this stress better than others – I am reminded of this on a daily basis, since sooo many people I know ‘have it together’ according to social media, whereas I still forget to eat lunch most workdays, and have been known to accidentally use deodorant instead of dry shampoo.
This got me to thinking, why does life have to be this way? Why must we all be seen to live such bustling lives to be regarded successful? Why do I allow myself to feel like a blob, and want to cwtch up in my baggiest jumper, whenever I see photos of confident women, wearing whatever the heck they want, even when they’re curvier than I am and have already had like three kids? Why do I beat myself up about not being able to ride my horses often enough, let alone compete them like I used to, despite the fact I have a chronic hand injury that drastically limits my capabilities?
Realisation struck today that the answers to those questions lie heavily upon the curse of social media goggles. It’s that ‘rose-tinted glasses’ affect, but far worse. Glasses grace your face and help you see whilst allowing for peripheral vision, yet goggles give you no choice as to your peripheral vision since they’re strapped tightly to your head. So tightly in fact, that when you eventually take them off, you’re left with red marks around your eyes, the effects of which take time to fade.
Maybe it’s about time we removed those goggles and viewed social media in its true light – as a form of media. When you read a fiction book or watch a blockbuster film, you fully expect scenes written to perfection, every detail taken care of, every character the idealistic image of an aspect of humanity. Despite the fact social media was designed to represent our everyday lives, we forget that it is just another form of media. People won’t share what they don’t want us to see (unless they’re really, really brave!). Silliness seems to have no place in a world striving for perfection. But, just as with fiction books and blockbuster films, we shouldn’t trust what we see on social media as being the full story. Behind every book you read there’s been an entire production team, often including authors or ghostwriters, editors, agents, and publishing companies. Same goes for blockbuster films – I guarantee if it’s big budget, there’s an entire team dedicated to each minuscule portion of that film’s development and production. And whilst we’ve been fooled into thinking social media harnesses each individual voice, algorithms working behind the scenes are what determines the content we see. Therefore, it shapes how we feel about social media, as opposed to allowing us to connect directly with the hundreds of people we ‘follow’ or are ‘friends’ with, and making our own minds up about them. That masterful direction means we are being exposed to an edited version of people, even people we see every day in person. For all its awesomeness, social media cannot replace true human connection.
Social media should not dictate that which defines us as ‘successful’. We are unique. Success is different for each of us.
So, actually, life doesn’t have to be stressful in order for us to be regarded successful. If you look back over your life and recognise that you’re in a healthier, happier place than you were a year or two ago, then congratulations – you’re winning!
Social media makes me feel like I should be going to a gym then sharing my sculpted form with ‘followers’ or ‘friends’, and buying expensive clothes that flatter my figure that I should post all over my social media profiles to show off, and I should learn to perfect make-up/camera-angles in order to attract higher-paying clients, and I should be posting 50 updates a day about what I’m doing to reach to a wider audience, and I should have my life in such great order that every day is prosperous. But do you know what, my respect for all these amazing women and men who seem capable of juggling every aspect of their life shouldn’t end with them, it should extend to myself.
I have to stop caring what social media has conditioned me to believe represents success. I am a powerful woman because I have overcome some horrible experiences and worked unbelievably hard to get to the fortunate position I am in today. I shall continue to work tirelessly to inspire an even better tomorrow, so I am going to stop allowing social media to make me feel like I’m not worthy, because you know what? I damn well am! Are you with me? I’d love to hear your success stories – whether that extends to writing a bestselling novel, or running an excellent charity, or something as seemingly humble as being a good person in a self-centred world. Because you, my friend, are marvelous and it’s about time someone noticed 🙂
And just so you know this isn’t empty narrative, I’ll include some of the silliness I’ve participated in over the last few days that inspired me to write this post…
Life can be tough, but it can also be amazing.
Stay well, stay safe, and please, keep smiling… <3
Sorry I’ve been away. I definitely haven’t been idle though!
As you’re able to see from exploring my website, I have worked exceedingly hard to update the services I offer. In this modern world of uncertainty, to be able to diversify is to remain financially afloat. I am absolutely delighted to be able to surround myself in the fascinating world of words.
I imagine you’re wondering what else I could have possibly been doing in a lockdown, to have prevented me from writing blog posts. Well, I’ve worked a little on my own writing projects, worked on a ghostwriting project, studied for my next uni assignment, cut my own fringe, kept up with caring for my horses and dog, as well as completing distance learning CPD courses. Phew! No wonder I am absolutely shattered…
Whilst my poor – already injured – hand is painful from all the writing (the printer ran out of ink and as printer ink isn’t an essential purchase, I chose to hand-write notes instead), I successfully completed a Bookkeeping for Personal & Business Accounting course, along with a CPD (Continued Professional Development) Proofreading & Copy-editing course; for which I achieved 100% on the final test! *High-five myself due to social distancing rules*
I may have square eyes and a broken hand now, but the fact I’ve managed to achieve a lot in lockdown got me to thinking as to why more schools and universities aren’t offering online courses for free. What better way is there to utilise our time than to better ourselves? Education is power. Surely, it’s about time we all had access to opportunities to pursue our dreams? Life is too damn short not to.
I am exceedingly fortunate to be on track to pursuing my dreams, having recently taken the leap into freelance ghostwriting – now proofreading and beta reading too – though some aren’t so lucky.
All I can hope is that everyone finds their own piece of positivity, amidst this time of turbulence. I hope you’re able to find your own peace during this pandemic!
( P.S. In case you needed a laugh, following are two photographs from this evening – ‘before’ and ‘after’. My apologies in advance for not having any make-up on whatsoever, for not using a filter, and for wearing my PJs. Hope my embarrassing attempt at DIY hair-cutting gives you a giggle! <3 )
Thought it might be nice to write a blog post about sheep – the underrated heroes of the British countryside.
They graze and fertilize pastures to allow for improved grass growth in the future; they cross-graze land with other livestock such as horses – consuming plants that horses cannot; and, let’s face it, there’s no lovelier sight on a glorious spring day than newborn lambs pinging and springing around our fields.
I confess, I am not fortunate enough to have my own farm. I pay to keep my gorgeous horses at a beautiful (arguably the most beautiful) place around a 30 minute drive away from home. In the spirit of helpfulness, my family and I try our best to assist with the care of the 100-or-so sheep who live at the farm. All baaa (see what I did there?) one are female, with just one castrated male – we helped hand-rear him a few years ago – who blends in perfectly with the girls.
We’ve had countless adventures whilst helping look after the sheep over the last decade; far too many to fit into one blog post! So to summarize, most winters are spent trudging through thigh-high (well, almost – maybe mid-calf to knee level on average) mud in all weathers to feed and check over the girls. Most of them are polite, standing back until their feed is in the trough and we’ve stepped away. There are a few Welsh-breed ewes who were born with attitude, however. They’re the ones we have to watch, because in their falsified state of starvation, their enthusiasm and affection are exaggerated; they’ve been known to knock us over accidentally – we’ve all face-planted the mud at some point. Then there’s lambing – wondrous and stressful in equal measure. Since a serious hand injury 5 years ago, unfortunately I haven’t assisted with any births. Before that, I am proud to say that when called upon I was able to save the lives of quite a few ewes and their lambs. One lamb was named Dannika by the lovely lady who owns the farm, after I saved both the lamb and her mother from what would’ve been an impossible birth. I am pleased to report that Dannika has grown up beautifully, and has since gone on to have twin lambs of her own 🙂
We’ve also helped hand-rear a number of lambs over the years. Again, just as with lambing, there are sad times accompanying that delightful sense of achievement when the lambs you’ve helped raise are able to join the flock. There’s no feeling quite like watching the lambs bounce around with joy in the spring sunshine, after you’ve worked tirelessly to keep them happy and healthy.
They don’t only provide entertainment as lambs though. We’ve encountered an array of colourful characters, the most infamous being Dot. She was the biggest character of all. A seemingly straight-forward, normal, run-of-the-mill sheep with a black dot on her knee, to the average observer Dot was no different to the thousands of other sheep gracing our Welsh mountains. To us, however, Dot was a legend.
Confidence permeated her fluffy white fleece. No obstacle was too much for her to take on. Even dangerous dogs with sharp teeth posed no threat to Dot.
Sometimes we wondered whether Dot actually realised she was a sheep, and not an adrenaline junkie horse-dog.
If Dot had a CV, the opening lines would read something like this: “I have the ability to escape any field. Doesn’t matter how reinforced the fencing is, I will defeat it. I teach my offspring to attack on command; they establish the weakness of their enemy and exploit it (with humans it’s the back of their knees, with dogs it’s their face). If you need a tack shed or barn broken into, I’m your girl. I boast excellent lock-picking skills; I’ve been known to terrify the living daylights out of liveries, by appearing in their tack sheds unannounced. There isn’t a creature on the planet I’m scared of. Dogs, horses, cattle, cars, tractors, cyclists etc. flee at the mere sight of me. I can walk up to any horse on the farm and demand they share their dinner with me – they never refuse. All-in-all I’d say I’m pretty well-rounded, as I work well as leader of a team (sheep seem to follow me everywhere), but even better as an individual. I’m a champion lawn-mower too, having escaped into many a garden to save homeowners expensive gardening fees.”
Sadly Dot disappeared two years ago, never to be seen since.
One of the newest characters in the flock is Janet. Once a shy, retiring type, the day-before-yesterday she waltzed up to me for the first time ever, demanding I feed her.
I will undoubtedly keep you updated on various sheep shenanigans – I’m sure you’ll be introduced to many more characters over this series of blog posts – but for now, I’ll sign off. Leaving you with this photograph of Janet and I from the other day…
So, given the state of the world right now, thought I’d add some consumable content to the ether…
Welcome to your daily dose of Dannika!
It’s my sincerest hope that you gain something from my ramblings. Whether that’s a smile, a laugh, a new viewpoint (we readers are naturally nosy after all), or simply some entertainment for a few minutes of your day.
I want to ensure everyone remains connected during these uncertain times of isolation and toilet-roll hoarding. My wish is that this is a safe place to go when you’re feeling overwhelmed, alone, or bored. I’d love for you to share your own ideas and stories too, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Together, we can try to turn this devastating reality into an amazing adventure. Are you with me?
If so, please visit whenever you’d like – I will be writing to my heart’s content. Even I have no idea what I’ll be writing about, so I cannot tell you what to expect – all I know is it’ll be a fresh experience for us all 🙂
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