Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Fog and lace

I woke up this morning at 5am, BAM! Wide awake. I'd forgotten that it starts to get light around that time now and I couldn't resist a peek out of the window. The whole of the house was shrouded in this eerie fog, the type of fog that you only get at that very early hour of the morning. Of course I went back to sleep as this is me and not some mad person who might have considered going out to take photos at such an early hour. 

When I did get out of bed the sun was just starting to crack through the fog and I had to go out and see what I might find, as I am clearly an explorer at heart. And I found this, almost like lace laid across the herbs:

I was trying to think of some way of saying how Mother Nature can produce such delights but all I could come up with was in't nature brilliant! Sums it up for me...

Monday, 28 April 2014

The natural world #1 : the green tea bath

There are two things about me that you maybe didn't know:
  1. I love a good browse on Pinterest
  2. I love experimenting with stuff
With that in mind it was inevitable that at some point I would come across a pin or seven that would have me at hello. My favourite section to browse is the health and beauty, there is seemingly no end of people who must spend their whole lives trawling the internet for weird and wonderful stuff that I just have to try. I have a whole folder that I call 'Going Natural' and it's basically full of pins that are just that - a natural alternative to nasty hidden chemicals and with the added benefit of being free and usually available in my stock cupboard. You already know from my various hair experiments that I'm willing to give anything a go once, just to see what happens. And you know that I'm heading into the last month of my final project and so I need distractions that are interesting and border on a bit weird to keep me entertained. So here is the first in my little mini-series of dipping my toe into the natural world: the green tea bath. 

How? Run your bath in the usual way but add 5-10 green teabags to create the green tea bath. I opted for 6, I was a bit nervous of 10. Oh and I didn't have pure green tea so my bath was green tea with apple and pear (perhaps to be included in my 5-a-day?)

Benefits: The opinion on this is quite varied but most seem to share the notion that it will soften skin, heal wounds because of the anti-oxidant properties, and soothe the soul...

First impressions: I clearly hadn't thought it through so was a bit taken aback when I went back to check the bath to discover that it looked like either someone had peed in the bath or like after workmen have been to do stuff with the water and it's that weird tinged shade of not quite sure I want to put my foot in there much less my body. I valiantly soldiered on in the name of science and for the sake of this new blog series.

Opinions: Still undecided. My skin didn't feel any different and it didn't really look different either. I did feel a slight tightening on the skin of my calves but that area is always dry and patchy. My soul did feel quite soothed but I whiled away my time in the green tea/wee/dodgy coloured water bath reading a couple of chapters of my book which will always be a soul soother for me. Overall I can't say it was much of a game changer for me. Maybe I'll just stick to drinking the green tea instead of sitting in it.    

Sunday, 27 April 2014

A house with a viewing

What a strange, strange weekend. Our house officially went up for sale on Thursday and by Friday evening we had two appointments for viewings. We were both a little gobsmacked to be honest and made similar squeaky eep-y type noises, I'm not sure that either of us was expecting people to want to come round quite so soon. We also made appointments to go and look at some houses that we like too, time to step away from the internet and actually go and look at the places! Also slightly eep-y and a bit nerve wracking. 

It's funny, neither of us is new to this house moving malarkey. I bought my very first house in my mid-20s and had sold it on by my mid-30s. And in my former student years, as a wee undergraduate in London, I moved house every single year for 5 years - it got to a point where I stopped unpacking apart from the absolute necessities. In Wavey's former life he bought and sold lots of times too, but neither of us have done this together. We made the decision to move into this house when we decided to live together because of the garden, as I am a total sun 'ho and must have access at all times, my old house just had a little yard and the sun went over the roof at 3pm but that is slightly off topic. So, yep, house moving. This buying together thing is exciting and terrifying and butterflies in my tummy all at once. 

We had all these terribly grown up conversations, usually when we were tramping around the village on our evening strolls, about the kind of things we hope for in the new house. We also declared outright that neither of us would be willing to 'settle' for something even if we knew the other one really liked it - it's utterly vital to us that we both feel the same way about our future house. When we went to the first viewing yesterday I was so nervous! I didn't know what to expect, other than that we both love the location. We went in, we did the tour, we made the appropriate noises, said our goodbyes and then headed home. For the rest of the day we literally talked ourselves all out of house talk! On yet another evening stroll (we do love a stroll) it emerged that we both absolutely loved the house but had been trying to play it cool so as not to make a big deal out of it, in case the other just thought it was okay. By the end of the hour long walk we'd almost decided to put in an offer! We're going back for a second viewing but it's looking like a definite contender. That's all I'll say on that for now as the story will progress. 

As for the viewings at our house. Throughout this weekend I have done more cleaning and hoovering than ever before I think (slight exaggeration possibly), we have a list of replacement cleaning products as we've run out of stuff already, my hands are red from so much washing up, and our house has never looked so bloody clean and tidy! We practically shouted with glee when we could leave the dishes from lunch on the worktop just now, wooop! It's hard work maintaining this level of tidy show housey-ness. The first people were very encouraging, they stayed for about 35 minutes and in the end we let them wander round on their own as we listened to them talk about how they would use the space. The second couple not so promising, I'd be very surprised to get any feedback from them at all. It's a strange thing though, showing people round your home, pointing out all the features that you take for granted and hope they don't notice the quirks. It's all very odd indeed. 

It's very early days in the whole thing. Who knows what will happen or where we will end up but it's exciting and just a little bit barmy. But then how dull would life be without a bit of barmy...? 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Life by numbers

I seem to spend a lot of days counting at the moment. I wake up and I count down the number of days until my first major deadline (20), then I count again for the BIG deadline, the one where there is no going back (33). I'm also applying for jobs at the same time so I count down the days until their deadline, although a lot of these agency jobs don't seem to have any deadline at all which surely can't be right. Then I'm putting all my different sections into one big document and counting the number of words to make sure I'm within the limit and wondering exactly how much editing I'm going to have to do to achieve that. For a gal who is none too fond of numbers that is a whole heap of counting. 

Today has been a non-motivated kind of day. Yesterday was hugely motivating and I got absolutely loads done and felt good. Today I feel a bit useless and remain uninspired - lots of staring at blank screens waiting for words to be formed. This kind of sums up the whole portion of this final study thing. Self-study: two very tricky words. It's so easy to be lazy, distracted, procrastinate, I'll just make one more cup of tea before I sit down to start typing, read one more blog, watch one more episode of Gossip Girl...what is really hard is saying right kid, time to get on with this and stop messing the eff around. 

Truth is, I think I'm done. I've had enough of this academic nonsense, I want a job again. A real job where I feel useful and needed, where my day is filled with actual achievements and I'm not a few feet away from the kettle and the giant tin of chocolate egg tastiness. Oh and money, oh how I miss money. I know, I know, it's almost over, I only have 33 days left until the whole thing has to be handed in, but today those 33 days feel like years. I want them to hurry up but I also don't want them to hurry up in case it all ends in one massive big panic...

Sheesh, nothing like a pity-party to entertain the masses.

In other news, my #1800 Minutes challenge is progressing. I've done a total of 400 minutes (more counting). I think it's safe to say I'm not going to complete the challenge but this I don't feel too bad about at all. It has got me moving and trying to regiment my exercise. It's safe to say I was never going to turn into a gym bunny. I'll own up to my final total at the end of the challenge (last day in May) and will keep plodding on. I am a ploddy donkey. I don't know where I came up with this term but it seems to fit my life at the moment. Here's a picture of a well-known donkey who definitely looks ploddy:

Normal service to be resumed shortly. Plod, plod...

Monday, 21 April 2014


I woke up this morning at about 7.30 am (on a Bank Holiday) with a shock. I think it was because my brain, in its sleepy mode, registered that the business exhibition where I will be presenting a giant poster and discussing my project (read: selling my wares) is in 3.5 weeks. Or 23 days. And I have a whole heap of work to do before I am ready. Oh...

The image below is quite an accurate representation of my expression:

And also an accurate representation of my bed hair. Oh... 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

1245 Sunflowers

There's all sorts of events happening up and down the country this year to commemorate the start of the First World War. And one of the nicest events, in my humble opinion, is happening right here in my very own town! 

1245 Sunflowers 

The name is in honour of the 1,245 war dead who came from Stockton on Tees, my hometown. From now, available across the town, are envelopes containing sunflower seeds and one name that your sunflower will honour. I picked mine up today and my sunflower is to remember Patrick Hearty. When all the flowers are tall and proud (hopefully!), on the weekend of 2nd-3rd August, people are invited to bring their sunflowers to the pretty Parish Gardens. Then, on 4th August which marks 100 years since Britain joined the war, there will be a tribute that will last for 1245 minutes, culminating in a community-led finale. I don't know any more detail than that as the website will update nearer to the time. 

I freely admit to being a bit of a wuss, but when I first read about this it really touched me. (Some) people in this town are fighting so hard to rebuild our reputation, despite media challenges like being named the worst town to live in England and the awful Benefits Street programme possibly being filmed here, and ideas like this that seem so simple fill me with joy. 

And I really love sunflowers, they're my most favourite flower. So I will grow my sunflowers with love and remembrance for people who seem so much braver than I think I could ever be. 

If anyone local wants to join in the seeds are available at these locations.  

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


Spent a most delightful morning wandering the park with T and baby monkey (note: not an actual baby monkey, she is actually a human child, but we call her baby monkey to maintain big wide world internets anonymity). There was not a cloud in the bright blue sky, acres of green grass and daisies stretched around us, pretty lakes, and random totem poles. We sat outside in the sunshine, in short sleeves, soaking in the rays, drinking coffee and eating cheese scones. I can't think of a nicer way to spend a Tuesday morning. 


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Paper and screen

It's simply a novel about a guy who goes to college and becomes a teacher. But it's one of the most fascinating things you've ever come across 
- Tom Hanks.

I really couldn't have put it better myself. 'Stoner' by John Williams is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I don't think I've found myself as absorbed and totally moved by a book since 'Any Human Heart' by William Boyd. I suppose in a way they're quite similar in style, narrating a man's life and all its ups and downs, but done in such a way that you can't tear yourself away from it yet you don't want it to finish. Someone asked me if it was good last week and I found myself nodding frantically and I actually said "it's touched my soul". I don't even know what I meant by that but it just seemed the right thing to say. It really did touch me, so much. I felt quite bereft when I had finished as I knew I wouldn't be reading about Stoner anymore. I think it's safe to say it gets a highly recommended from me.

Touching of souls wasn't limited to paper this week, although this film was originally a book: 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas'. I read the little paragraph about it in the tv guide and I kind of knew what the story was about but I went ahead and watched it anyway. I can't say I'm glad as I was properly heartbroken by the end, but I am glad I watched it if you see what I mean. 

At the heart of the film was friendship, and I could never shake the sensation that in all my years of studying and reading about Nazi Germany it had honestly never occurred to me that of course, the people who ran those camps might have had children of their own. Who were innocent to what was going on around them and just wanted a friend to play with. I won't say what happens at the end in case anyone decides they want to go through a few tissues one night but I can still hear Vera Farmiga screaming Bruuuuuuunoooooo at the end *blood runs cold*  

I think maybe I need to lighten things up a bit. Anybody got any good comedy recommendations? 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Keep on moving

After months of planning, prepping, painting, primping, and preening today was finally the day. Today is the day our house has gone up for sale. Eeeeh, I can hardly believe it. I'm excited and nervous all at the same time and when I think about it, like seriously, I get little butterflies in my tummy. 

This house selling business is some strange malarkey these days. Property programmes throw a lot of buzz words around like neutralise, de-personalise, there's a whole lot of ise-ing going on. Over the past week or so we've done just that though, saying farewell to things (call it 'stuff') that make this house unique to us, and boxing them away. Packed away is the dalek that Fizz knitted for us and acts as a guiding beacon so that people visiting know it's our house, packed away is Roger the Tiger who lived on the staircase with his paw waiting out for a high five every time you pop upstairs, reduced dramatically are the cookbooks that I love so much, aprons packed away, colourful cushions replaced with more neutral colours...it's an odd sensation. I think maybe it's part of the process - make the house look like nothing like you choose to live in so that it's easier to let someone else have it. 

Walking round this morning it was very strange. Empty kind of. I know a lot of people live like this all the time, without 'stuff' and very neat and tidy but it's definitely not a true reflection of us! I took a couple of photos of upstairs so you can see a room in all its magnificent tidy glory (luckily I am not the photographer as the light is pretty rubbish):

On a side note, how cool is this vase? Cat helped me pick it out on Saturday, and I love it:

Thankfully the estate agent didn't open any cupboards so he didn't see the ironing pile tumble out as I opened one wardrobe door, and the still soggy towels from morning showers in the other. Turns out we're pretty good at hiding things. 

And now we just have to wait. And be hopeful that people will like our house and want to buy it. Then we have to find somewhere new to live, but that's a whole other blog post. Stay tuned...


Friday, 11 April 2014

Hello Spring...

...it sure is good to see you my friend. 


Thursday, 10 April 2014

Day 10: #1800 Minutes

10 days in and 121 minutes down. I know it doesn't seem like very much, and I also know that I'm seriously going to have to up my game if I stand a chance of actually achieving the #1800 Minutes, but for me it's a good start. I've been motivated to do exercise, and even if it's only 20 minutes or so it's got to be better than 0 minutes, right? 

The truth of it is I'm actually enjoying it. Not in a yeah let's get pumped maaaaan type of way, but in a more sedate, hmmm even though my heart is pounding this is feeling good kind of way. The barre exercise DVD is really fun and I was chuffed today to be able to achieve a reverse plank, although there's a juvenile part of me that always ends up giggling at this kind of thing, mainly due to my bottom. My bottom is pretty big, I have ample booty, and whenever you have to do stuff like a reverse plank the people on the DVD are so elevated from the floor as they have teeny tiny bums, but me? Always grazing the carpet, no matter how high I lift. It's an equal blessing and curse, as I'm sure J-Lo would agree...

Oh and did I mention that today I had completed my exercises by 8.10. As in AM. Oh yeah, I was up and at 'em George Mcfadden. (Anyone who knows me well, knows that this is a serious accomplishment). Stay tuned for more exciting #1800 Minutes updates...

Monday, 7 April 2014

A tube well wrung

That, friends, is a well wrung out tube! 

Remind yourself of the Tube Wringer love here

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Ginger flower zinger!

Mixologists beware for I have created a new drink! I'm calling it Ginger Flower Zinger cos it's zingy and oh so refreshing! To make this tasty drink you need the following ingredients:

  • Ginger ale
  • Elderflower cordial
  • Ice
Start with the ice, 2-3 cubes or a generous handful of crushed. Pour the ginger ale up to the top of the glass and watch it fizz. Add a generous dash of elderflower cordial and leave it for a couple of minutes for the flavours to merge. 

Sip and enjoy! I think it's going to become my summer refreshment staple. Yum! 

Friday, 4 April 2014

Be thrifty with Dizz

There is nothing I like more than a bargain. I'm that person who when you say you like something, I'm always eager to tell you that it only cost 20p (possibly a slight exaggeration...), I really should just learn to say thank you. 

Due to my bargain loving nature I am here to share with you an exceptionally good deal, from one of my favourite shops: Dorothy Perkins. Ah Dotty P. She makes really nice clothes, that are very good quality, they always wash well and stay in shape (things my Ma says, should be a whole post in itself), and most importantly, they fit really well. I never come out of there feeling like I have to go home and just eat lettuce after getting my head stuck in a top and fearing I might dislocate my shoulder. That ever happened to you too? No? Just me then. 

So Dotty P. She of the lovely clothes. She is also offering what seems to me to be several permanent money saving deals for your Spring wardrobe which you can find here and should you happen to spend over £50, which is very easily done, if you use the code DPDEL50 you get free delivery! You can also collect from store for free, if you have one nearby. 

I accidentally might have put 4 things into my basket. But with that kind of saving it's just too good to be true...no? Just me then. 

Edit: As it turns out not permanent savings at all. In fact they end at Midnight tonight. So you best be quick if you want to be thrifty!  

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Keeping it real #1800 Minutes

Day 3. 
Total minutes so far: 44. 
Total minutes still to do: 1756. 
New experiences: working out with hand weights. 
Surprise to self: can still move arms #shocker. 

And here's a photo of my fab new running shoes. Confession: they haven't actually been out for a run yet but they have walked. Briskly. Up steep paths.  Whatever, I'm proud.


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Looking forward

There's a ridiculous rumour that on my next birthday I will be 40. FORTY. No way. 

I've just finished reading Tina Fey's book, Bossypants, and one chapter is about turning 40. This is what she has to say: 

I need to take my pants off as soon as I get home. I didn't used to have to do that. But now I do. 

This is what I have to say to that:


Tuesday, 1 April 2014

#1800 Minutes

If I've got my maths right (which trust me will always be questionable) 1800 minutes equals 30 hours. 30 hours between now and the end of May doesn't seem all that much. Until I remember that it's all about exercise. 

I was reading one of my blogs the other day which was all about this 1800 Minute challenge and before I knew where I was I'd clicked a link and signed up! I still don't know what happened there. Actually that's not entirely true, I believe I was thinking, oh this will be motivational, let's sign up. The thing is, I find it really hard to get excited about exercise. I'm sure I've blogged many times about this but I just don't get it. I have friends who love it. LOVE IT. They practically drool when it's gym time they're so excited. But me? Not so much. I've joined so many gyms in the past, paid hundreds of pounds for months on end and barely swiped my card twice. I long ago vowed to never join another gym.

These days I exercise at home. One advantage of not being at work. Plus it's either free - there are tonnes of free workouts online, who knew?! - or pretty cheap if you buy a DVD as it's a one-time buy. My two most recent purchases have included a Barre workout DVD and some handweights, and this was before I signed up for this challenge! I don't know about you but I'm quite impressed with that commitment. 

Which of course brings me neatly round to the purpose of this blog post. The #1800 Minute challenge. I hereby pledge to try to do at least 1800 minutes of exercise between today and the last day in May. It's for me, it's for fitness, it's for health...ok it's for a prize draw. If you want to join in you can still sign up here and join me in my journey...BARF! I shall post on here along the way. It won't be glamorous, but it might raise some chuckles. Whose with me?