Bali, How I Miss You!

Bali is one of those places I’d heard a lot about, much of it not good, and it definitely wasn’t on my “to visit” list. That is until the bosses at my workplace decided to “treat” its staff to an all-expenses trip to Bali for a training conference. To be honest, I wasn’t excited, but I figured I should suspend my opinion on the place until I’d seen it for myself. Just for context, I live in Western Australia and here, Bali is no big deal as it’s only a 3 hour flight and a more affordable holiday destination than most Australian resorts. In fact, it’s harder to find someone who hasn’t been to Bali than one who has.   

The work trip lasted about four days. We spent three days in a hotel meeting room learning how to do our job better, the remaining time we were free to explore. In between training sessions, we also found time to dash out to explore Kuta, where our hotel was located, and do some shopping. But during our full day off, a few of us hired a vehicle with a driver for the day, something you can do cheaply in Bali, and we took off to see the sights. And Bali captivated me. When you get away from the noise, traffic and chaos of Kuta, a popular town the tourists, I discovered a magical charm about the island reinforced by the smiling faces of the Balinese people. It is a place rich in culture, with breathtaking scenery, gorgeous beaches and amazing architecture.

Scenery

Although I fell in love with the place during that work trip, it took me over ten years to return. However, I’ve since become a regular visitor until the Covid pandemic stopped overseas travel. And how I miss it. Bali has become my place to go to escape the stresses and strains of daily life. Being close to the equator, the temperature there doesn’t vary so while there’s no guarantee of dry weather, I know it will always be pleasantly warm.

Taman Ujung Water Palace

Yes, it is touristy but the tourists flock to certain areas so it’s easy to find quieter places if you want to escape the crowds. When we visited the Taman Ujung Water Palace in East Bali (see above and below) there was hardly anybody else there.

Taman Ujung Water Palace

Culture

The Balinese are deeply religious people and everywhere you go you will come across these little shrines. You also need to be careful where you walk. Little baskets made of palm leaves containing flowers, fruit and smoking sticks of incense get placed everywhere. These are Banten, or offerings made to the Gods. It is disrespectful to tread on them but as they’re often left on pavements, and footpaths, it’s easy to do so accidentally, in which case, it’s polite to apologise.

One year we were there in March during Nyepi, which was quite an experience. Nyepi is a Hindu celebration, a day of silence, meditation and fasting. During Nyepi the entire island shuts down. Everyone has to stay at home, without entertainment, or even electricity. As visitors, we had to remain on our hotel premises and after dark, were confined to our rooms with the shutters closed to prevent the escape of light. It was a surreal experience!

The day before, however, was the opposite of quiet. That’s when many villages parade their Ogah Ogah, large grotesque statues made from lightweight materials, through the streets.

Women gather during the Ngembak Geni (Relighting the Fire) festival celebrated the day after Nyepi, the day of silence.

The Ngembak Geni (Relighting the Fire) festival is celebrated the day after Nyepi, the day of silence. This is a day of self-introspection when the Balinese locals take time to contemplate on their values about tolerance, love, patience and kindness.

Artisans

The Balinese are gifted artisans. Here are some of them creating some of the gorgeous handicrafts available on the island.

Markets

The markets are colourful and noisy and the stallholders can be a little pushy, which isn’t my cup of tea, but definitely worth checking out, if for nothing other than the great shots you can get.

Beaches

This beautiful beach was close to Nusa Dua in the Southern part of Bali. However, not all Bali’s beaches have inviting golden sand. As Bali has an active volcano, there are several beaches with dark sand.

If you enjoyed this post, here are some others that might interest you.

7 Travel Romance Novels For Sheer Escapism

With travel being impossible for many of us at the moment, we need armchair travel more than ever at the moment!

I love travelling and I love romance books. The combination of the two is, therefore, one of my favourite types of reading material. There’s nothing like experiencing a new country even if it’s through a cast of fictional characters. And, with travel being impossible for many of us at the moment, we need armchair travel more than ever! So I’ve put together this list of 7 travel romance novels to whisk you away to magical foreign lands.

I love this quote from the book I’m currently reading (see That Night in Paris below!).

…the traveller embraces the differences of each new location and the tourist bitches and moans about them, often incessantly.

A Paris Fairy Tale by Marie Laval

Art Historian, Aurora Black travels to Paris to work at an art auction house to establish if an illuminated manuscript is authentic. She comes up against Cédric Castel, an audacious journalist. Cédric is out to prove that Aurora has been hired for less ethical reasons.
They end up on an adventurous journey across France battling rogue antique dealers and personal demons all the while trying to fight the growing attraction they have for one another.

This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you click on the link I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. For further information please read the affiliate statement here.

My Greek Island Summer by Mandy Baggot

Becky works at “It’s a Wrap”, her sister’s sandwich making business. But, unknown to her sister, Becky has invented some imaginative and popular fillings for the sandwiches and wraps, thanks to her talent for linking ingredients that work together. Her input has saved the business from financial disaster. But Becky’s not content. She feels life is passing her by plus her sister treats her appallingly. So, when the opportunity arises to house-sit a luxurious villa on the Greek island of Corfu, Becky jumps at the chance. And, if her sister won’t give her time off, she’s even prepared to sacrifice her job.
The journey to the villa is more eventful than Becky anticipates. Her first plane is late arriving in Athens and she misses the connection and has to stay overnight. Then the weather causes her flight to Corfu to be diverted to another Greek island. But, she’s not alone. Also travelling to Corfu is her London-Athens seat companion Elias, a London-based Greek lawyer. Eventually Becky reaches the villa with Petra, another traveller she met on the journey, in tow, but discovers that a menagerie of animals have taken up residence in the villa. So begins her Greek adventure!

The Invitation by Belinda Alexandra

Set at the turn of the twentieth century in the Belle Epoque of Paris and the Gilded Age of New York.
Emma Lacasse is a writer and harpist in Paris during the Belle Epoque. She leads a bohemian lifestyle with her lover, artist, Claude and their collection of friends, but she’s also heavily in debt after paying her grandmother’s medical expenses. In danger of losing her home, she contacts her sister in New York and appeals to her to lend her some money. Her sister is married to one of the wealthiest men in New York, but the siblings have been estranged for nearly twenty years.
Her sister agrees to help her on condition that Emma travels to New York to help her shy daughter, Isadora, prepare for her society debut. Emma has no option but to accept.
In New York Emma discovers her sister’s life is one of luxurious opulence and unimaginable excess but by contrast, Emma is introduced to the other side of New York, one of extreme poverty and hardship. And lurking beneath the glittering New York society she discovers a web of lies, deceit and moral corruption.

The Other Wives Club by Shari Low

A hilarious fast paced comedy.
Drew Gold is celebrating his fiftieth birthday so decides to take his family on a luxurious Mediterranean cruise but, unknown to Tess, his wife, he’s also invited his two former wives, Sarah and Mona. What could go wrong?

That Night in Paris by Sandy Barker

After having drunken sex with her flatmate, Cat decides she has to escape before he gets the wrong idea and thinks she wants a relationship. After a bad break up ten years earlier, she’s no intention of going down that path again. She books a fourteen day coach tour around Europe. On the trip she makes new friends, drinks lots of wine and visits some amazing places… and a chance encounter with an old friend stirs up buried emotions.

Summer at Sea by Beth Labonte

Funny and heart-warming!
Summer Hartwell, a twenty-something school librarian who still lives with her parents, is forced to join them on a week-long cruise to Bermuda paid for by her brother. As well as the torture of being stuck on a cruise with her anxiety-ridden parents, she also has to put up with Graham, her brother’s best friend and once the cause of a heart-crushing event. But despite the drawbacks, Summer recognises that the cruise provides a great opportunity to break free of her clingy, multi-phobic parents. Somewhere on a ship with two thousand people she’ll find her future husband.
But Graham doesn’t believe Summer needs a husband to break free of her parents. She just needs to stand up to them and start to embrace life.

Here Come the Boys by Milly Johnson

Another cruise story – this time a short story.

Angie Silverton embarks on a well-deserved cruise with her husband, Gil, only to run into Selina on board. Selina is her once best friend, now sworn enemy after she stole Zander, the love of Angie’s life. When Gil is stricken with seasickness, Angie goes onshore in Malaga by herself to do some shopping but when she misses the boat’s departure she finds herself stranded with Selina. The two women are forced together for three days while they catch up with the ship. Are they able to settle their differences?

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An Afternoon At The Opera

Facade of Palais Garnier in Paris

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to stroll along the boulevards of Paris, but it’s a city I’ve visited often. I even spent several months there as a student in my teenage years. Hopefully, I’ll be able to travel there again soon but in the meantime, I’ve been going through some of my old photos and I came across a selection I took during a very enjoyable afternoon visit to the Palais Garnier. Back in my teenage years, I remember going to a performance there and seeing the great Rudolph Nureyev dance, but the distance of time had faded my memories of the place.

Possibly better known as the Paris Opera, the building opened in 1875 14 years after Napoleon III commissioned architect Charles Garnier to design the building.

Image dating back to October 1863 showing the construction in progress of the Palais Garnier. (Wikimedia Commons)
Construction on the façade October 1863 – Wikimedia Commons

It became the principal venue for the Paris opera until 1989, when the Opéra Bastille opened. Nowadays, it’s possibly better known as the setting for Gaston Leroux’s novel “The Phantom of the Opera” published in 1910.

Facade of Palais Garnier in Paris
Facade of Palais Garnier showing busts of Mozart (centre) Spontini (right) and Beethoven (left). The N in the frieze above is for the Emporer Napoleon III and E for Empress Eugenie.

Palais Garnier is the principal venue for The Paris Opera Ballet but this afternoon I wasn’t there to watch a performance. I was there to wander through the awe-inspiring rooms and soak up the atmosphere. The Palais Garnier also offers guided tours, but I preferred to meander around at my own pace.

This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you click on the link I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. For further information please read the affiliate statement here.

The Grand Staircase

The first hint of the opulence that awaits is the Grand Staircase. Resting under a sumptuous 30 metre high ceiling, I felt like I’d stepped into a movie set as I walked up the magnificent marble circular staircase.

The Grand Staircase of the Palais Garnier - image by isogood via Wikimedia Commons
The Grand Staircase – image by isogood via Wikimedia Commons

Palais Garnier, Grand Staircase. Image by Zairon via Wikimedia Commons
Palais Garnier, Grand Staircase. Image by Zairon via Wikimedia Commons

Auditorium

Next stop on my tour was the beautiful theatre itself. Ornate gold boxes flank the horseshoe-shaped auditorium, making it obvious that not only the onstage performers are there to be seen. Apparently, the stage is the largest in Europe and can fit up to 450 artists. You can’t see that standing in the auditorium, but you can take a virtual tour (check the link below) and then you’ll appreciate the size and scale of the space behind the curtain. 

The auditorium of Palais Garnier showing the magnificent tromp l'oeil stage curtain

At the time of my visit I didn’t realise the plush red stage curtain is actually a trompe l’oeil; its elaborate folds and draping an illusion created with paint. But for me, the highlight of the theatre is the colourful ceiling painted by one of my favourite artists, Marc Chagall. Paying homage to major composers, it comprises twelve canvas panels around a central panel and covers 240 square metres (2583 square feet). No mean feat when you consider Chagall was in his 70s back in 1964 when he did the work. Thankfully, he didn’t have to climb high scaffolding and work directly on the ceiling like Michaelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. The panels were painted in studios around Paris and then installed on the ceiling, covering up the original work by the 19th century artist Jules-Eugène Lenepveau. Interesting fact; Chagall did not accept any payment for his work. 

Palais Garnier ceiling of auditorium painted by the artist Marc Chagall

The Grand Foyer

The awe-inspiring Grand Foyer of the Palais Garnier

Saving the best for last, the most spectacular part of the Palais Garnier is The Grand Foyer. Stretching 54 metres long (177 feet) it is near the prestigious level of the auditorium close to the top category of boxes. It was a place where people could rest, stroll and mingle with high society. Dazzled by the crystal chandeliers, mirrors and the gold decorative elements I had the beginnings of a sore neck by the time I’d walked the 54 metres to the other end after staring up at the exquisite artworks on the ceiling painted by representing themes from the history of music.

Detail of the ceiling in the Grand Foyer, Palais Garnier. Artist Paul Baudry.

The Phantom of the Opera

Gaston Leroux was a reporter with L’Echo de Paris when he wrote the Phantom of the Opera, published in novel form in 1910. There are many aspects of the Phantom of the Opera that have some grain of truth. There really is a lake under the Palais Garnier. It is apparently now used to train firefighters to swim in the dark. They also based the famous chandelier crash on fact. But whether the Phantom existed remains unproven, although rumours circulated that the building was haunted.

Watercolour Painting by André Castaigne illustrating first American edition of the Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux 1911. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Information

The entrance to the Palais Garnier can be found on the corner of Scribe and Auber Streets, 75009 Paris.
Metro: Opéra station (lines 3, 7 & 8)
For tour details and other information consult the official website per the link below.

Official Website – Click here

At the time of writing, the Palais Garnier is closed due to the Covid 19 pandemic, but you can take a virtual tour thanks to Google Arts and Culture.

Link to virtual tour

Ballet Costume from Palais Garnier in Paris

And, if you’re interested in what the performers have been doing during their lockdown, take a look at this amazing You Tube video, which is just breathtaking. Even some of their kids get in on the act. Very cute!

Books

Other posts that you may enjoy.

The Palais Garnier, otherwise known as the Paris Opera.
The Palais Garnier, otherwise known as the Paris Opera.
The Palais Garnier, otherwise known as the Paris Opera.
The Palais Garnier, otherwise known as the Paris Opera.

Positive Monday – Self Love and Acceptance

Here is your positive daily affirmation for Monday. On Mondays I like to start the week on a good note by posting a positive affirmation. This week’s affirmation will probably be challenging to many people but it’s still a very important reminder. To see a collection of all the positive affirmations I’ve posted so far, click here. And for more on positive affirmations with guidelines on how to write your own check out this post.

For more inspiration check out my Pinterest board!

Recent posts

7 Recent Netflix Romcoms Worth Watching

(and as a bonus there are 4 romcom series you can watch too!)

There is an abundance of articles on the internet about favourite romcoms, but when you check them out, so many of the recommended movies are REALLY old! And yes, I’m guilty of recommending old movies, myself. In my blog post 7 Uplifting Romcoms to Warm the Heart, I even included one from 1957! Does that mean there are no decent romcoms being made? No! Here’s a list of seven Netflix romcoms made within the past few years that I can recommend (in no particular order).

Disclaimer: I watch Netflix in Australia, and at the time of publishing this post in March 2021, these titles are all still available. Netflix is region-based, so your region may not have all these titles.

1) The Holidate (2020)

When strangers, Sloane and Jackson meet at a shopping mall one Christmas, they discover they share a mutual hatred of the holiday season due to the pressures imposed on them by friends and family because they’re still single. As they both agree they’re not attracted to one another, they become each other’s plus one for all future holidays, with no strings attached.

Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey in Holidate

Although this Netflix romcom didn’t receive rave reviews on IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was some good chemistry between the two lead characters and some genuinely amusing moments, not to mention some raunchy dialogue to spice things up. Of course you know the two will end up together, and the ending is rather a romcom cliché but it’s uplifting and fun all the same. Definitely worth a watch.

2) Love Wedding Repeat (2020)

Eleanor Tomlinson and Tiziano Caputo from Love Wedding Repeat
Eleanor Tomlinson as Hayley and Tiziano Caputo as Roberto from Love Wedding Repeat

Hayley and Roberto are getting married in an amazing Italian palazzo. As Hayley’s parents are dead, she asks her brother, Jack, to walk her down the aisle and ensure the day goes smoothly. But when Marc, one of Hayley’s old school classmates, turns up uninvited, high on drugs and tries to stop Hayley from marrying Roberto, Jack realises his task is not going to be easy.

Eleanor Tomlinson and Jack Farthing in Love Wedding Repeat

Another film that didn’t do so well with the critics, but the Italian settings are gorgeous. Overall, I found it funny and entertaining. The real romance plot involves Jack and a friend of Hayley’s who he met by chance a few years earlier and hasn’t seen until she turns up for Hayley’s wedding. Unfortunately, his ex-girlfriend also turns up to cause havoc. Whilst the plot is quite farcical it’s all good fun. If you’re a fan of the Poldark TV series, you’ll recognise Eleanor Tomlinson and Jack Farthing.

3) Juliet, Naked (2018)

Annie’s boyfriend Duncan has a musical obsession with a once popular singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe, who disappeared off the music scene many years earlier. Duncan’s obsession absorbs all his waking hours when he’s not working, leaving Annie, understandably, feeling neglected. Duncan, however, resents the fact Annie doesn’t share his passion. Things change when she opens an envelope addressed to Duncan and finds a demo cd containing some never heard of Tucker Crowe songs, and posts a scathing review on Duncan’s fan website.

Rose Byrne in Juliet Naked

I didn’t know what to expect with this movie, having not read the synopsis before watching it. But overall, I found it a delight with outstanding performances from all the principal characters. Ethan Hawke as Tucker Crowe reminded me a little of Kris Kristofferson in the 1976 version of “A Star Is Born”.

4) Top End Wedding (2019)

This is an Australian movie set in the spectacular Northern Territory and the Tiwi Islands. Lauren and Ned have just ten days to find Lauren’s mother, reunite her parents and get married.

This movie is just sheer escapist fun in an amazing setting with quirky characters. I live in Australia but I’ve never been to the Northern Territory. After watching this movie, I wanted to pack my bags and go there. Fans of British police drama series will recognise Dan Collins from “Midsomer Murders” and Huw Higginson from “The Bill”

5) Falling Inn Love (2019)

When Gabriela wins an idyllic-looking inn in New Zealand, she decides it’s the life change she needs after just losing her job and ending her relationship. She packs up and leaves her home in San Francisco and heads across the world to her new life in New Zealand. Unfortunately, she finds a crumbling property nothing like the chocolate box image on the competition website. Gabriela enlists handsome contractor, Jake, to help her renovate the property so she can flip it and return to the States.

Christina Milian and Adam Demos from Falling Inn Love

For a couple of hours of light-hearted, escapist fun, you can’t go far wrong with this movie set in stunning New Zealand. Adam Demos, as Jake, is a likeable, worthy hero for Christina Milian’s Gabriela. Fun fact, Adam Demos, who’s really Australian, cut his acting teeth on the same long running Aussie soap, Home and Away, as Luke Bracey from “Holidate”. Other notable Australian actors to have worked on Home and Away early in their careers include Heath Ledger, Isla Fisher, Guy Pearce, Chris Hemsworth and Naomi Watts.

6) Set It Up (2018)

Harper and Charlie are overworked executive assistants to two high-powered, demanding, workaholic bosses. To make their lives more bearable, they hatch a plan to bring their bosses together romantically, hoping it will give their bosses something other than work to think about. And, as this is a romantic comedy, the growing attraction between Harper and Charlie develops into something more.

Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell from the movie "Set it Up" available on Netflix

I thought this Netflix romcom was witty and enjoyable. There was plenty of chemistry between the two main characters. There were some romcom clichés, but it had all the right ingredients for a satisfying romance.

7) Love Guaranteed (2020)

After 986 unsuccessful dates, Nick decides to sue the dating agency and hires struggling lawyer, Susan, to represent him. But as the case develops, the couple discover their feelings for one another growing.

Rachel Leigh Cook and Daman Wayans Jr from Love Guaranteed

This is another Netflix romcom I started watching with no prior expectations and thoroughly enjoyed. It captures the genre brilliantly. The leading characters have plenty of chemistry and charm. The dialogue is witty, and the romance tugs the heartstrings in all the right places. If you’ve ever tried internet dating, you’ll probably relate to Susan’s experiences after Susan admits to her colleagues that she’s never used an internet dating agency and they insist she has to try it out… for the case, of course!

https://youtu.be/TcilGWIzvdE

4 Netflix Romcom Series

1) Emily in Paris (2020)

Lily Collins from "Emily in Paris"

When Emily’s boss in Chicago discovers she’s pregnant, she sends Emily in her place to work as a social media advisor to a marketing firm in Paris. Unfortunately, Emily doesn’t speak a word of French, which doesn’t go down well with her ultra-chic Parisian boss.

Lily Collins, Ashley Park and Lucas Bravo from Emily in Paris

Okay, this series has many flaws. I’ve lived in Paris and the people are not at all how they’re portrayed in this series. In fact, I can imagine this series would seriously annoy many Parisians. It always makes me laugh in movieland when a character gets in a taxi at an airport and is driven past every major landmark to reach their hotel! Also, I’d love to know Emily’s bag packing secrets. She has such a wide variety of clothes, hats, handbags and shoes and yet she arrives in Paris with just two suitcases and a few bags! But for pure fantasy, escapist fun, I enjoyed watching Emily in Paris and look forward to the second series.

2) Lovesick (2014)

When Dylan discovers he has chlamydia, he sets out to alert all his previous partners.

I loved this series. It doesn’t sound very romantic, but it’s a brilliant series about friendship and love. As Dylan revisits his past, he learns a lot about himself and the importance of good friends. Dylan is scruffy, awkward and very endearing! Played by Johnny Flynn who you may have seen in period dramas such as “Vanity Fair” and the recent movie version of Jane Austen’s “Emma”

3) Dash & Lily (2020)

Austin Abrams and Midori Francis from Dash and Lily

Over one Christmas, Dash and Lily get acquainted through a notebook, planted at various locations in New York City. Through the notebook, they share their thoughts and dreams and set each other a series of dares.

Midori Francis in Dash and Lily

I initially didn’t watch this series as I thought it would be more for a teenage audience, but I’m so glad I gave it a go. I found it utterly charming. It’s beautifully acted, and refreshingly original.

4) The Hook Up Plan (2018)

I haven’t yet watched the second series of this French romcom set in Paris, but the first was a lot of fun. This movie presents a more realistic picture of Paris than in Emily in Paris.

To help Elsa get over her ex, her friends hire a good-looking escort to pose as a potential boyfriend. Their plan works better than expected until Elsa discovers the truth.

I hope you enjoyed this round up of movies and shows to watch on Netflix. Here are some more posts you may enjoy.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

I am in charge of my destiny

Positive Monday – I choose health, wealth and happiness

Here is your positive daily affirmation for Monday. Each Monday I post a positive affirmation to help you start your week on a good note. This week’s affirmation is to remind us that we’re in charge of our destiny so we should choose wisely. To see a collection of all the positive affirmations I’ve posted so far, click here. And for more on positive affirmations with guidelines on how to write your own check out this post.

Start your day with some positive statements and attract a new future

For more inspiration check out my Pinterest board!

Repeating positive affirmations each day is simple and effective and can bring amazing benefits to your life.

Positive Monday – Beautiful Life Filled with Blessings

Here is your positive daily affirmation for Monday. Each Monday I post a positive affirmation to help you start your week on a good note. To see a collection of all the positive affirmations I’ve posted so far, click here. And for more on positive affirmations with guidelines on how to write your own check out this post.

Repeating positive affirmations each day is a simple and effective and can bring amazing benefits to your life.

For more inspiration check out my Pinterest board!

#the100dayproject – week 1

On January 31st 2021 I began my very first 100 day project. I was completely unaware of #the100dayproject until recently but it’s been running for years! The current annual round is now the eighth. If you haven’t heard of it either, the brief is simple. You choose a creative project and commit to doing it every day for 100 days and share the results or the process online.

If you’re interested in joining in, it’s not too late. Just head over to the website https://the100dayproject.org/ to get all the details. You can choose to work on more or less anything that you want, but there are some suggestions on the website. They also suggest you choose something that will only take about ten minutes a day to keep the daily committment manageable.

if there's some skill or habit you'd like to improve, it's not too late to join #the100dayproject

For my 100 day project, I’ve decided to do a daily drawing of an animal. Admittedly at the moment, I’m spending more like half an hour than ten minutes on each drawing, but I’m hoping to speed up as I progress.

Initially, I planned to do a drawing of anything, but the animal portrait theme crept in and, as I’m enjoying it I’m going to continue. I’m all for making this project fun! Hopefully, I will continue to find great images to use as reference. So far, I’ve been scalping the reserves at https://unsplash.com/ which is one of my favourite sites for free images.

As I’ve just completed my first full week, I thought I would post the results, below together with the reference images I used.

Day 1

For #the100dayproject https://the100dayproject.org/  Reference lion photo by Kazuky Akayashi on www.unsplash.comI plan to draw a picture of an animal each day.
Reference lion photo by Kazuky Akayashi on www.unsplash.com

Day 2

For #the100day project https://the100dayproject.org/ Reference llama photo by Greg Lippert on www.unsplash.com I plan to draw a picture of an animal each day.
llama reference photo by Greg Lippert on www.unsplash.com

Day 3

For #the100dayproject https://the100dayproject.org/  Dog reference photo by Edson Torres on www.unsplash.comI plan to draw a picture of an animal each day.
Dog reference photo by Edson Torres on www.unsplash.com

Day 4

For #the100dayproject https://the100dayproject.org/ I Zebra reference photo by Gerhard Crous on www.unsplash.com plan to draw a picture of an animal each day.
Zebra reference photo by Gerhard Crous on www.unsplash.com

Day 5

For #the100dayproject https://the100dayproject.org/ The duck reference photo is by Mike Prince on www.unsplash.com I plan to draw a picture of an animal each day.
Duck reference photo by Mike Prince on www.unsplash.com

Day 6

For #the100dayproject https://the100dayproject.org/ The quokka reference photo is by Holger Detje on www.pixabay.com I plan to draw a picture of an animal each day.
Quokka reference photo by Holger Detje on www.pixabay.com

Day 7

For #the100dayproject https://the100dayproject.org/  The cow reference photo is by Thomas Oldenburger on www.unsplash.comI plan to draw a picture of an animal each day.
Cow reference photo by Thomas Oldenburger on www.unsplash.com

I’m finding that this exercise is training me to really observe the lines, texture and the light and shade of the animal in the reference photo. I’m not worrying too much about the background detail, to make the process quicker and less complicated. To help me keep the dimensions accurate I put a grid over the reference photo and a similar grid on my paper, which I later erase.

The great thing about working in graphite is that it’s such a versatile medium! You can use different grades of pencil for different effects, and erasers and blending tools to create texture and depth. It’s also very liberating not to have to worry about colour and paint.

If you think you’d like to have a go, it’s not too late to join in. Go to the100dayproject.org for all the details. You can also follow the hashtag #the100dayproject on Instagram.

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Tiny woman sitting on huge book flat vector illustration. Big book door to knowledge, new world and experience. Literature, skill and experience concept

5 Phenomenal Websites for Free (Legit) eBooks

I’m going to share with you 5 terrific websites where you can download a variety of ebooks, in various genres, for free….without breaking any laws.

It probably comes as no surprise to learn that during the Covid 19 pandemic many people turned to books. During 2020 people read more than ever before whether because they sought entertainment, escapism or just to fill time.

Of course, this is not a bad thing. There are many benefits to reading such as:

  • Creates empathy. You’re right there, in the characters’ heads living their life, seeing what they see and experiencing all their ups and downs.
  • Reading stimulates the imagination.
  • Helps improve vocabulary.
  • Can improve problem solving and analytical skills.
  • Science has proven that reading can help relieve stress.

So here’s the list of my top five places to get free books. Most of these will require you to sign up to their service.

Bookbub

https://www.bookbub.com/

Amazon

Explaining how to find free ebooks in Amazon can be tricky because it depends on which site you’re using (eg amazon.com amazon.co.uk amazon.ca etc) and which device (pc, phone, tablet). However, I found typing something like “Kindle free books” in the search bar came up with results. You can also add a genre in there to narrow the search down. “Kindle free romance books” or “kindle free best sellers top 100”. If you just type “kindle free” and wait a moment then Amazon will provide some options for you.

If you’re after classic literature you can check out this link

Bookcave

Book Cave

https://mybookcave.com/

Prolific Works

Prolific Works has a newsletter which you can subscribe to. Each email focusses on specific genres.  Romance on Mondays, Tuesdays, it’s mystery, crime, and thriller genres. On Wednesdays, they send two emails: one to readers interested in the fantasy, paranormal, and horror genres, and one to those interested in science fiction, comics, and graphic novels. On Thursdays, the newsletter focusses on all subgenres of young adult fiction. And on Friday, they send out a recap of all group giveaways that were highlighted throughout the week.

https://www.prolificworks.com/reader/library

Freebooksy

https://www.freebooksy.com/

Gutenberg

This site is mainly for classic literature.

https://www.gutenberg.org/

Hopefully you will find lots of great reading material and maybe discover your new favourite author! Remember the best way to thank an author for providing their book for free is by giving them an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads or other booksites that allow reviews. If you need help writing a review check out this article.