Back in January I won this hardback copy of the The Crooked House by Christobel Kent in a Twitter competition with @TheCrimeVault. Its a fantastic enthralling psychological thriller that keeps you guessing to the very end. The storyline is full of twists and turns that builds to a very intense climax. It has a very atmospheric and moody feeling which brings it out to the book cover as well. 

The book is about Alison’s story. 13 years ago she was the only survivor of a horrendous tragedy that happened one night in her house and has very limited memories of what happened. Now she has changed her name from Esme to Alison, lives a quiet life with no ties, but when she meets her boyfriend Paul Bartlett she only then decides to go back to her previous life and confront her past during a wedding back in her hometown. . 
The story is set in a small rural community called Saltleigh where outsiders do not fit in, this gives it a much more creepy feeling as a young Esme and her family are looked at as strangers/outsiders. The description of the setting is very vivid and you can see with your own eyes that a town with muddy marshes and bleak moors makes it very isolated.
Alison is such a likable and strong character that you cannot help but feel for her as she revisits her memories. She is very determined to find out the truth and shows a great deal of inner strength. With her creepy boyfriend Paul from the beginning you feel that something is amiss with him, and this develops further into the story.
It’s a very dark, mysterious book with sinister undertones, just when you think it’s gonna get better for Alison, something else crops up. Its one of those books where it always gets worse before it gets better! 
I really loved reading this book and I found it hard to put down hence why I read it in only 4 days! I highly reccommend it! 

Rachel xx

As you all know all my ‘wins’ get sent to my parents house for delivery due to me never being at home. This is what my mum has collected for me this week! 
My #FreebieFriday win was with FRijj on Twitter and they sent me 5 vouchers for free bottles of their milkshake which I absolutely love, especially the Fudge Brownie one! The Hedrin Protect & Go conditioning spray I won through the lovely whatkatysaid blog competition, and this will go to my sister for my nephew. I think it will be perfect for when he starts school in September!
I received the lovely cookbook through a Twitter win with Gill & Macmillan Books, it is also signed by the author which I always think makes it such a lovely touch. Cookbooks in my house always come in handy, so another perfect win.
The book in the photo Natchez Burning is from a Goodreads first read competition that i won on the 6th March. It’s nearly 900 pages long so is gonna take me awhile to read, but looks to be a fantastic thriller by the exciting cover, recommendation by my favourite author Stephen King and the exciting description on the back. 
In my very first post, I mentioned that I won a watch from Breo, well it finally arrived after me having to chase them after I never received it when they said it was sent! It is a very gorgeous watch with a silicone strap and Swarovski Elements in the dial. Well worth the wait! I don’t normally wear watches during the day as my job does not permit watches to be worn, so I am going to save it for a going out watch. 
Rachel xx

On the 20th March the Spring equinox arrived! An equinox is when day and night are equal in length. So from Friday onwards the day is longer than the night! yippee! We will have much lighter evenings for those BBQ’s and drinks after work in the garden! The most important thing is that as Spring is here, Summer is just around the corner!
For a gardener like me this is a very exciting time of year, there is much to do in the garden to prepare for some wonderful growth, like making sure flowers are prepared to bloom to their maximum and fruit growing to their full potential. The first jobs to do are to tidy and weed the garden. Prepare any raised beds you may have by turning the soil and adding manure/rotted compost ready for planting.
Yesterday my husband and I spent a couple of hours weeding and tidying our 15m x 3m rectangular back garden. That might not sound too bad but I omitted the fact that its on a slope of approx. 45 degrees! I have lots of evergreens and shrubs planted on the slope but hope to eventually construct a rockery there also. There are 30 steps that lead down from the slope garden to our patio, this is where I have all my containers with various fruit bushes and flowers. Its a gorgeous sun trap in the afternoons.
The flowers below are some of my favourites. As you know from my previous gerberas in bloom post gerberas are my all time favourite flowers, primroses are next. They come in many different bright colours, blue being very striking. I had to post a photo of the beautiful daffodil as this time of year they are in abundance on hedges, roadsides and fields. I have no idea what the flower in the bottom right of the photo is called! Its very pretty and was taken by my good friend Caroline. If anyone knows what the flower is, please let us know in the comments!
I bought some little herb plants in Homebase to plant in a container I’ve had spare for a while. You can never have enough fresh herbs, perfect for cooking. I chose oregano because it’s smell reminds me of pizzas! chives and golden thyme, they will come in handy once they grow a bit more.
On my steps leading up to the top slope garden I have various tubs, a couple of these contain coloured heathers which brighten up the area. I bought these last summer as the top photo shows what they looked like then. As you can see now as we are in Spring they are beginning to bud into flowers as shown in the bottom photo. The colours on the heathers will eventually fade as they were dyed.
I would love to hear in the comments about any spring/summer plans you have for your gardens.
Rachel xx

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Today is Friday!, in my opinion it’s the best competition entering day of the week! and of course the weekend is practically here! woohoo! Anyway back to today, Fridays on twitter is crazy, companies love to give away stuff! hence the main hash tag #FreebieFriday! I have been religiously entering Twitter competitions on Fridays for quite a few years now and have won all sorts! from milkshake vouchers, cakes, and freeze pops, to books, a door handle and letter box, cleaning equipment and a torch pen! Its a mad world!
I find entering twitter competitions are quick and easy to enter if you are time limited. To find competitions on Twitter, type any of the hash tags in the picture above into your search bar on Twitter. I am sure there are more competition hash tags out there, but these were all I could think of while writing this! Remember to follow the competition host as well, as that is normally a requirement before you re tweet and it makes it easier for them to contact you if you win. 
Recently I have noticed that the hash tag #WinItWednesday is getting very popular as well on Wednesday’s, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for them as well. The more you start entering and following on twitter, the more competitions will show up in your time line. 
From my personal experience of winning Twitter competitions don’t just re tweet the original company’s tweet, engage with them with using their own competition hash tags. A little comment here and there with those hash tags will get you noticed! Another tip is to always find the company’s original tweet to re tweet otherwise the poor person that has re tweeted it will have zillions of Twitter notifications after you have re tweeted their re tweet! 
I hope this all makes sense to you! If not please leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to help. 
Good luck with entering Twitter competitions!
Rachel xx

We love to go for walks on Sunday morning’s so it’s a perfect opportunity for me to learn better photography skills. I am an absolute beginner in this area, but cannot wait to learn more to help with my blogging photos. It seems to me nowadays that for most blog posts to stand out they have to have captivating photographs. Being a new blogger everything is a learning curve for me and photography is one of my main areas I would like to work on.
This old house boat down at Malpas in Truro has always caught my eye so I thought it would be a perfect project to learn more camera skills. I have been reading and discovering lots of photography hints and tips along the way and have compiled a list for you.
So here are some basic tips for improving your photos:
  1. Make sure the camera is in the correct mode, e.g landscape, screen shot or shutter priority.
  2. Lighting is very important. Don’t shoot people pictures with the sun behind them.
  3. Understand white balance. This I’m learning more about all the time, it just means that you adjust the balance to get colours in photos as accurate as possible.
  4. The Rule of Thirds: Imagine a grid of 9 squares over your photo, well place the main elements of your photo on one of the lines or intersections. The eye will naturally be drawn to one of those points on the photo, making it interesting and improving the composition.
  5. Angles: Find different angles that are intriguing to you, i.e photos of buildings from the bottom up. This gives your photos different perspectives and fascinating elements.
  6. Photo Selections: Be selective in which photos you want to use.
  7. Apps/programmes: While I am learning and experimenting, I am using apps to help with the editing process. i.e cropping, colour-correct, and exposure. The quality of the photos are very much improved

These are my basic learning photography skills, I would love to hear about your hints and tips for capturing great photos, and where you find the best locations to take pictures.

Rachel xx

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