Month: May 2015

Makeup review: Rimmel Lash Accelerator Endless Mascara

Oh – the pleasure / pain of a new mascara! Dramatic eh?! But oh so true! When you get a shiny new mascara you tend to realise how dried out and past it’s best your previous one was (just me then…) And, more importantly, how wet a new one is! I’ve been using this new (to me – I think it’s been on the market for a while) Rimmel Lash Accelerator Endless mascara for 3 weeks, and still I manage to get spider eyelids and smudgy bits (perhaps says more about me than the mascara).

Anyways…

I really like this mascara (that bit should probably be at the end – it kind of sums up the whole review). But here’s why I like it.

Aesthetically, I like the tube. It’s a good tube. Angular so its easy to hold and doesn’t slip out of your hand. Good colour. It’s easy to spot in my make up bag as there’s nothing else that colour in there.

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The brush is made of small rubbery fibres rather than a brush brush. Ever since I first came across the comb style applicators a few years back, I haven’t gone back to a brush, You just don’t get the same coverage. This brush easily wriggles right down to the roots of your eyelashes and gives good smooth coverage all along the lash.

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And the colour. Yes it’s black. But it’s a good black. Very black. Not wishy washy black.

Now, the mascara contains “Grow Lash Complex + Fibres”. I don’t know what that means, but it seems to suggest your eyelashes are going to look bloomin’ great when you use it. That they’re going to be longer than with other mascaras. And whilst I don’t have any actual evidence (how do you measure your lashes? Is there an eyelash ruler I’ve missed out on?) they’re certainly looking better than in a while. I’ve always had good eyelashes (not a CV worthy statement I know, but still a boon to one’s appearance) but recently they’ve been looking a bit weedy and rubbish. Some shorter than others and a little bit sparse. But this mascara has done great things for them.

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I also find it doesn’t smudge, flake or end up in a pool under my eyes by the end of the day.

To bring this full circle, I really like this mascara (didn’t I say that a few paragraphs of waffle ago?) And yes I would repurchase. Especially if I can sneak it onto the weekly shopping bill when I’m whizzing round Sainsbury’s (I didn’t do that, husband, if you’re reading).

It retails for around £8 in the usual High Street places.

(and also, how freaky is it seeing my eye close up like that?!)

Hey, Ho – Let’s Go! A review of Richie Ramone at The Oobleck, Birmingham

Here’s a funny story about The Ramones (actually it’s mainly about me).

Up until about 10 years ago I’d never heard of The Ramones. Sure, I knew some of their songs (Baby I Love You, Blitzkreig Bop – which I actually thought was called “Hey Ho, Let’s Go” until last night) but I didn’t know who sang them. I certainly didn’t know they were an iconic group with a cult following. So much so, that when Ramones t-shirts started appearing in High Street fashion stores like Primark about 12 years ago, I actually thought they were a new band…

Fast forward to the present day, and years of musical education and appreciation mean I know a lot more now than I did back then. I know, for example, that there are no surviving members of the original group. I know that Richie was the drummer from 1983 and also wrote some of the songs. And I also know, thanks to the power of Youtube, that his solo album is an absolute corker.

Which is why I found myself at new-ish Birmingham venue The Oobleck at the Custard Factory in Digbeth last night. The Oobleck and Alfie Birds are sister venues – the former being the gig space and the latter being the bar/food area (although they do also have bands playing upstairs sometimes).

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Together they used to be the Medicine Bar, legendary for dance music all nighters and world famous DJs, but that incarnation came to an end around 10 years ago. Sometimes, they used to drain the pool on big event nights. I thought the floating lilies were a nice touch.

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The Oobleck/Alfie Birds has just celebrated it’s first birthday, but this is the first time I’ve been to the gig space.

Starting with a (very) brief mention of the second support band – Venrez. They’re just alright. Bit of an Alice in Chains vibe going on musically, but a poor man’s version. I’ve actually seen them supporting other bands before, about 18 months ago, and the best I can say about them is that they sounded better this time around. But the singer has no charisma or stage presence, and is also a pretty unpleasant dude – on the wrong side of arrogant and cocky when he really has no cause to be.

Having already proven myself to have no musical qualifications to even justify talking about anything Ramone-ish, here goes.

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Wow (profound, I know). Richie loped onto the stage with menace; he’s a hulk of a man in the height department with the shoulder width of two men.

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Splitting his time between vocals and drums he never missed a note or a beat – snarling and growling out the songs with real punk passion. He has a great voice, wasted purely as a drummer, so it was great to see him front of stage, engaging with the crowd, telling everyone to come forward to the barrier and reaching out to them. His drumming, too, was amazing (as you’d expect) – really passionate and loud and noisy and energetic. Because the focus was on him, the kit was further towards the front of the stage than is usual at a gig, which gave a great opportunity to properly watch his performance. His energy never faltered from beginning to end.

Lead guitarist Alex Kane, who I’m told is something of a legend who has worked with a multitude of the greats including Slash and Alice Cooper, was really fun to watch.

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Jumping about like a lunatic, crazy blond and black hair flying, he thrashed his guitar like he was trying to pull the strings off – darting around the stage, playing up to the crowd, posing for great camera shots and basically loving every minute. His lust for the performance really came through and he looked like he was having an amazing time, as well as banging out riffs like it was the last gig of his life.

Clare Misstake – bassist and all round cool mo’fo’ – skinny as a rake, shaved side of head and a glow in the dark quiff at the front of her ponytail, wow was she into it or what? Counting in at the start of each song, her vocals were strong and fearsome and her dexterity with the bass was amazing. Such punk attitude and delivery, she was great to watch.

Finally, Ben Reagan on rhythm guitar and drums (I had to Google him – he was at the other side of the stage and much less visible, both in terms of distance and presence, than the rest of the band) but, needless to say, when Richie was doing vocals only, Ben’s drumming was superb, the passion and pace never faltered.

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It’s fair to say I enjoyed the gig massively – I don’t have the fancy words and eloquent review patter to articulate just how good the music was. A combination of Ramones songs and Richie’s own stuff, it was superb from beginning to end. I didn’t stand still for the whole time and was left wanting more (the only criticism is that the set felt too short and there was no encore, but that’s just me being greedy!)

It may only be May, but it’s already a contender for gig of the year.

Here’s a taster from his current album.

How I wish I was seeing more dates (or going to Camden Rocks this weekend, where Richie, Ginger Wildheart and so many others are playing).

Check out more about Richie on his website http://www.richieramone.com/

Quick word about the Oobleck – the venue space has that urban gritty feel – nothing shiny or fancy about it – which I quite like in a gig venue, and the toilets are unisex (just FYI).

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The sound was very good; no complaints there, but the lighting was AWFUL (a photographer friend of mine who was getting some shots said the same) and what was with all the smoke? Way too much, obscured the view of the stage (you can get a feel for it by the clarity of my photos and I was right at the front!), and made the place smell like a 90s nightclub. Sort it out!

(On the plus side the drinks prices are good – £3.50 for a pint, £3.50 for a vodka and mixer).

Oh, and it has made me realise that I definitely want to go and try some food at Alfie Birds next door – menu looked fab! Review to follow as and when!

Transgender equality – Bruce Jenner and all that Jazz

So Bruce Jenner has undergone gender reassignment surgery. Fantastic news.

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And I say that not as a fan of Bruce, or the Kardashians (seriously, who would even admit to that!) but as a fan of people living their life in a way that makes them happy. Yes, changing gender is probably as extreme as it gets. But if that’s what it takes then it’s no-one’s business apart from the person suffering.

And suffering must be exactly what it feels like. Living every day as a lie. Imagine, whatever gender you are and feel happy with, that someone makes you act out the opposite gender every day. So for me, as a woman (and perfectly 100% happy with that), if someone told me I had to dress as a man, and go to men’s toilets, and look like a man, and answer to a man’s name – it would destroy the hell out of me. It would strip me of my identity, of my true self, and feel like I was lying to the world and myself (which, of course, I would be).

I don’t understand why that’s so difficult for many people to understand. Our mind is what makes us who we are – not our body. Our body is just a vessel. And bodies sometimes don’t develop quite as they should. People are born with physical disabilities because of how they developed in the womb – would you tell those people that they’re wrong? That they have the body they “should” have? Of course not.

And so I believe it is with trans-gender people. Whenever you read their story, they always say they were born with the wrong body. Bearing in mind the difference between male and female during development is just the splitting of a chromosome, its not hard to comprehend. It’s not their mind that is in the wrong. It’s just their physical vessel.

There’s a lot of vitriol and trolling on social media and chat forums from people who are either so narrow minded that they can’t comprehend anything different from themselves, or people who are just looking for a rise. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference (the unfortunate thing about the anonymity of the internet is that it gives people a mask to hide behind, and that there are some weird people who enjoy being mean to others). Unnecessary, horrible, vile words – the likes of which I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy. And I always think to myself, “imagine if it was you or someone in your family”.

Back to the celebrity side of things. Bruce Jenner is part of the very successful money making Kardashian brand, so a decision like this – going public – can’t have come easy. As an ex Olympian with grown up children – she’s lived the life of a “real man”. Her children are on TV. Her son-in-law is a rapper. These are all judgemental areas of life that she could jeopardise by finally being herself. But, however long it took her to get there, she obviously couldn’t live the lie anymore. And, based on news reports of how they’ve handled it (and this is something you will probably never hear me say again) I respect the Kardashians. Kim has been vocal about never having seen Bruce look happier, and how she will help her with styling. Even Kanye is reported to have been the one to help Kim come to terms with it (I still think that’s a PR stunt to make him look like less of a douche, but that’s another story). Kris has said Bruce is “her hero”. These are all beautiful reactions to a person that they love. Before all this, they might have had negative opinions of transgender people; not believing that it’s a mental issue, or even real. But, when faced with it, they have embraced Bruce as the person she is.

I know that people all over the world go through these kind of experiences day in day out, and don’t get the coverage or support or celebration that celebrities get. They may have to fight harder and longer to get a diagnosis, or treatment. But that doesn’t mean we should chastise the celebrities. In some ways it’s harder for them, as their struggle isn’t localised – it’s all over the media. Their every move, every look, every fashion choice is judged globally. Imagine the first time Bruce is seen, post-op, in women’s clothes. It will be everywhere.

I recently became aware, via the internet, of a little girl called Jazz Jennings.

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When Jazz was born, she was physically a boy. But from a very young age, Jazz identified as a girl. Her parents have supported her, not pigeonholing her into being a boy or girl, but letting her make her own choices. There’s even more controversy around transgender children, purely because many people say they’re too young to know their own mind, that they may change as they get older. Again I would say that a feeling – a knowledge – as strong as this isn’t “just a fad”. But of course there are rules in place around surgery and such like that are there to protect children and avoid any mistakes being made (I have to say I’ve never read a case where a child has identified with an opposite gender and then “changed back”).

Jazz is now growing up, in her teens, and is a very vocal activist for LGBT rights and for transgender children. She’s appeared on TV, co-wrote a book aimed at children to promote understanding and is to star in a reality show. Clean & Clear have featured her in an ad campaign – groundbreaking move by them, and so important in “normalising” transgender people.

Jazz and her family have put themselves out there to increase understanding and acceptance. They could have kept it under wraps, done it quietly, let Jazz have a normal girl’s life. But she felt so strongly about her rights, and the rights of others like her, that she’s out there making a difference. Campaigning for equality. They established the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation, to support other children in Jazz’s position. She isn’t unique – there are thousands more like her. Unfortunately not all of them will have the same happy ending due to misinformation, stereotyping and lack of compassion.

It’s heartbreaking that, in the 21st century, people should still have to carry a title .

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Who cares if you’re gay, straight, transgender? What it comes down to is this. We’re all on earth for a relatively short time. If happiness is within your grasp then you owe it to yourself to pursue it. The journey may be hard, but the result will be worth it.

Top of the Travel Pops for 2015 – Marrakech

According to TripAdvisor’s Traveller’s Choice Awards, Marrakech is top of the tree in this year’s must visit destination list. I went to Marrakech in June 2012 and it’s certainly an assault on the senses. It feels like “real” travelling, it’s a totally different culture and the people there have a totally different approach to everyday life.

We “cheated” in some ways – we stayed outside of the centre, in an all inclusive resort, the Riu Tikida Garden. The reasoning behind it was that we wanted a holiday, not just a city break. Therefore we wanted to lie by the pool, relax, eat and drink in hotel surroundings with the option to dip in and out of the centre of Marrakech as we chose. Set in acres of stunning gardens, everything was green and immaculate.

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It turned out to be a good choice. The centre and people can be quite overwhelming and, although I expected it, I don’t think husband was prepared. I’ve been to Tunisia (albeit many years ago) and have experienced the “in your face, follow you down the street, try to physically grab you” approach that some locals have with tourists. He didn’t expect it to the extent you experience in the old quarter. He is less tolerant than I am (!!!) and doesn’t like to feel his personal space is being invaded.

Also, with the souks, they can be very claustrophobic and enveloping. There often isn’t an obvious and immediate way out, and with the heat and petrol fumes (traders will drive vans through the centre) it can be quite a heady and sickly atmosphere.

Having said that, Marrakech is definitely something to be experienced, and I truly believe we had the best of both worlds. We were just 3km from the medina, pennies in a taxi, and went exploring at our leisure.

In the daytime Marrakech is crazy hot, and being a conservative country it’s a good idea to cover legs and shoulders (for girls). The traffic in the centre is mindblowing – we saw mopeds with babies in baskets on the front, loaded with 4 people at a time. People using donkeys and rickety carts made from odd wheels and bits of wood. No sense of pedestrian safety, road safety or awareness. Definitely a place to have your wits about you!

The medina is dominated by the Koutoubia Mosque. Calls to prayer happen from here – haunting and far reaching across the city.

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The centre is fairly green, with lots of palm trees and rows of horse and carriages for tourists to take a tour of the city.

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The souks are shabby and shambolic, higgledy piggledy and maze like.

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This man carved wood with a lathe and his feet. He made jewellery, chess pieces and ornaments. Fascinating.

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The Bahia Palace is a well preserved royal palace with intricate mosaics, royal tombs and walled gardens.

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We visited a traditional apothecary where natural medications and treatments were demonstrated. We felt kind of obliged to buy something! (there’s a lot of that in Morocco) and ended up with rose cream, orange oil and nigella seeds (none of which we ever used when we got home!)

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At night the square is alive with sights and smells. Street food traders cook all manner of delights, drawing in punters with calls of “Asda price” and “cheap as chips”. They have the Western patter! But at night it feels slightly more intimidating – dark, smoky, full of groups of young men in the streets. That’s not to say it’s unsafe, but it certainly feels different.

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Am I glad I went? Yes. It was an experience and I want to see the world; warts and all. Would I go back? Possibly. But it would be without husband, as he’s adamantly against it!

Film review – Almost Famous

Almost Famous may be 15 years old, but it’s a timeless film. Set in the early 70s, it’s based around 15 year old William Miller – a wannabe journalist – who blags himself an article in Rolling Stone magazine about the fortunes and fame of up and coming rock band Stillwater.

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William finds himself unexpectedly on the “Almost Famous” tour with the band, accompanied by their entourage of groupies – the Bandaids – headed up by the infamous young Miss Penny Lane (played beautifully by Kate Hudson), with Rolling Stone expecting an in depth piece on the band which they plan to feature on the cover.

William lies about his age in order to get the gig, and his likeability and willingness to indulge the band in their rock star behaviour leads to them taking him under their wing and onto the tour bus as they cross America. William is quickly thrust into a world of excess, tempered by his own desire to succeed as well as the constant words of his concerned mother ringing in his ears. All he wants is his interview, but getting it is harder than it seems due to the egos and wild behaviour that gets in the way.

If the overview sounds like just another rock and roll flick, it’s anything but. There’s a lot of sub plots in the film around family relationships, love, truth and jealousy. Patrick Fugit is brilliantly cast as William; young and vulnerable, dogged and determined, professional yet – at times – obviously completely overwhelmed by the situation he’s found himself in. The band struggles, mainly between lead singer Jeff (Jason Lee, of My Name is Earl fame) and lead guitarist Russell (played by Billy Cruddup), are portrayed with a reality that most of us can only imagine, but find extremely believable. Band rifts, jealousy and bitterness threaten to tear them apart; only adding to William’s difficulty in getting the story he needs.

With the added distraction of the Bandaids, whose delusions of being more than just a groupie are both comical and endearing, William experiences a real coming of age. Dippy, dedicated and sometimes drugged up, the young girls embody the effects that the power of a rockstar can have. Old before their time, well travelled and already experienced in lust and heartbreak, the girls will do anything for “their men”, which is naturally taken advantage of by the band.

Kate Hudson is an absolute joy to watch. She lights up the screen with her portrayal of Penny Lane; groupie extraordinaire who, in her late teens, is already “retired” from the business of sleeping with rock stars. Her love for Russell is, at times, painful to watch and the delicate nature of her fragile heart and mind make her loveable in spite of her questionable “job”. You want things to work out well for her, for someone to protect her and make everything ok. The searing pain in some of the scenes, when she’s rejected by Russell, is so evident in her eyes that you just want to reach out and give her a hug through the screen!

The conclusion of the film, winding up all of the stories and all of the journeys, is very well executed; so fitting, and so nicely done that you’re left with a warm fuzzy feeling about each and everyone of the characters – despite their flaws and mistakes.

At just over 2 hours it’s not a short film, but it is a great film. I have watched it time and time again, and love it more with each viewing.

Here is my (and surely everyone’s) favourite scene of the film. It’s impossible not to sing along.

The fashion is fabulous, the music is super cool, and there’s a great cast, including the aforementioned, as well as Zooey Deschanel, Anna Paquin and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman playing Lester Bangs.

Steven Tyler – hot pensioner, country singer and unlikely style icon

When I consider which celebrity wardrobe I’d most like to have, the first person that springs to mind is Steven Tyler. Which is odd considering a) he’s 30 years older than me, and b) he’s a man.

But he’s Just. So. Cool.

When he was one of the judges on American Idol I fell in love with him a little bit (ok, a lot). His charisma, sense of humour, that voice. I also developed a major hair crush. His locks are divine!

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Aerosmith headlined Sunday night at last year’s Download Festival, and only added to my love for him. It had been a heavy weekend of drinking, standing, walking and more drinking and we were all feeling worse for wear but Steven came onto the stage like a whirling dervish – a vision in white, feathers and scarves flowing – and lifted our energy levels through the roof.

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To perform with such fervour at an age when most men are retiring is no mean feat. The stage show was electric, his vocals were perfect, and it was all very special and emotional and an amazing end to an amazing weekend.

And now he’s diversified musically and is set to release a country album. I’m having a bit of an out of character (for me) love in with country at the moment, and the first single of the album is a bit of a corker, right from the first listen.

Back to his wardrobe, which I covet so much.

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Leopard print, layered necklaces, scarves, chunky rings, hair feathers, hats, frills, skinny flares, tailoring? He’s a rock ‘n’ roll hippie dream!

New mantra when getting ready – WSWI…

…Would Steven Wear It?

Same sex marriage – the Irish referendum

I don’t often get political on the blog, usually because I’m too self centred talking about me and my life, but I’m compelled to talk about the gay marriage referendum in Ireland. I was shocked to read that ex pats aren’t allowed to vote unless they’re in the country. Bearing in mind that the majority of people who have left Ireland are likely to be younger and therefore open to the idea of gay marriage and equality, and older people still in the Emerald Isle are perhaps more traditional (a sweeping generalisation I know, and of course there will be exceptions), this smacks of the powers that be trying to influence the result.

All hail then the people who are travelling #home to vote, which is trending on Twitter. People who realise the importance of being part of history, of exercising their individual power, and of not being controlled by the politician’s who are trying to dissuade them from getting involved. Not just those who want to vote yes (although, as is obvious, that’s what I believe the result should be). But, even for those who are voting no, it’s wrong to try and silence the voters’ voice by changing the rules and insisting on physical geographical voting. It is giving the message that you’re not really Irish unless you’re in the country, and that your voice shouldn’t be heard if you’ve dared to leave the homeland.

The vote is ground breaking as it’s the first time the issue of gay marriage has been voted publicly. Whatever the result, there will be outcry from the “losing” side. Ultimately some people are going to be upset. I suppose its the most democratic way of deciding (certainly better than politicians making the rules) but, ultimately, why should it be down to a vote at all? Why should it even be up for debate?

The truth is that all adults should have the same human rights. If two people are in love and want to express that love by committing to each other – publicly, privately, whatever – then who are other people to judge? What gives anyone the right to exert power over another group and decide what they can and can’t do when it comes to loving someone? We’re not talking taboo like incest or bestiality. We’re talking consenting adults who want to spend their lives together.

Most people are horrified and appalled by the thought of apartheid and black people being segregated and treated as second class citizens as they once were. Preventing gay marriage is such a similar thing. It’s treating people differently because of who they are; something they can’t even control. Black people don’t choose to be black. Gay people don’t choose to be gay.

Love is love, and love is beautiful.

And, to prove it, here are some photos from Gay Pride in Los Angeles 5 years ago – such a fun day full of laughter, good energy, and acceptance.

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Hard to bear hair

My hair is the current bane of my life (I know, first world problems). Seriously though, it’s driving me to distraction. I’m so pre-occupied with it that it’s actually impacting on other stuff. Like on Saturday night when it wouldn’t go right no matter how much I messed with it, I felt like crapola when I went out. On Monday I got caught in the rain and, because it’s naturally curly but still short-ish, I ended up looking like one of the Golden Girls for the rest of my workday. When I got home my worst fears were concerned, with the reaction being “Good god, what have you done?!” Yeah, thanks.

It’s a funny length, a funny shape, a funny texture (not strictly true I suppose, only when damp) and I’m fed up of the colour. I feel like it’s making me look old and dragging my face down. It might also be responsible for unrest in the Middle East and rainforest destruction. That’s how bad I feel about it.

When I started deliberating about what to do lengthwise I was still unsure. Now I’ve made my mind up that I’m growing it, I want it long again. Now. Unfortunately, nature being what it is, I’m going to have to show some patience (not one of my strongest traits) and work with what I’ve got.

Last time I was growing my hair out was around 11 years ago, and I bought clip in hair extensions which I had matched to my colour at the time. They helped bridge the gap between long and short and I don’t remember it ever being this painful (I could be looking back through rose tinted glasses though).

This is the current colour and length.

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The plan that was forming to change the colour was scuppered by the ineffectiveness of the colour remover I used two weeks ago. That isn’t to say the product was ineffective (I know it isn’t, as I’ve used it before), rather that my hair didn’t respond as I wanted it to (much stamping of feet). I know that black dye is notoriously difficult to strip, which is why I’ve only been using semi permanent colours, but with some porosity I assume that the colour might have soaked in (technical hairdresser term). I think I expected too much based on previous stripping. Last time, when I got rid of the red, my hair was left a light brown colour. But that would be because the red dye I’d been using had also bleached it over time as well. This time the removal was much more subtle. I’d say that the black has pretty much gone. But it’s still very dark brown (with a few springy sprouty greys – damn you aging hair follicles!)

So, what’s next? .

I’m helping it to grow with hair vitamins (whether these actually work, or are just a marketing ploy to placate desperados like me I don’t know).

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I’m cleansing it to within an inch of it’s life with clarifying shampoo – removing as much build up as I can…

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…before I strip it again (it’s safe to do so, you can use up to 3 of these treatments each time without damaging you hair).

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And then, regardless of what happens, even if it’s still dark, I’m going to stick a colour on it. Because even non bleach colours will lighten hair a little bit.

My dilemma is this:

Do I go for a lighter (than my current) brown with a view to heading towards a more summery look? (which will inevitably end up with messy roots and probably a hideous shade of orange). Or have I bought this dye because I’m seduced by the pretty girl on the front with the gorgeous eyes and long lustrous locks? (and also because it says age defy, and I’m all for that!)

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Or do I go for red for a kick in the ass, brighten my look, shock to the system? (It won’t go this red, ever, but I need something very bright to show up on/over the brown).

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I won’t get the immediate result with either of them from just one application, I know. With the red, especially, it needs to build up, so I’d probably dye it once a week at first, with careful conditioning and maintenance to avoid damage.

Because, the other thing is that it’s only 3 weeks until Download Festival, and naturally I want to look my best because there will be SO MANY PHOTOS that will circulate ALL YEAR LONG until the next one. So I need to act quickly.

No pressure then. What could possibly go wrong…?

Parting is such sweet sorrow (aka the clear out update)

Following on from last week’s inspirational article read from Stylist magazine, I decided to put the concept into full practice. Ruthlessly pulling things from my wardrobe, at times I was discarding based purely on gut instinct – the fact that I didn’t say “oooh” was enough to realise an item had to go. It was pretty satisfying to see the charity bags filling up, especially with things that I know have escaped previous culls by a hair’s breadth and still haven’t been worn since.

The process was somewhat helped by my change in work circumstances, and the fact that I now have a casual dresscode. “Work” shoes that maybe had slightly scuffed heels but were still good enough to wear to the office have gone. Pencil skirts that are too tight but I’d convinced myself would fit me again at some point are out the door. Auf Wiedersehn to t-shirts that have gone a bit bobbly. Au revoir to dresses that are past their best. Ta-ra a bit to jeans that are so low rise I can’t believe they ever fit me. And, to anything that doesn’t totally ding my dong, a big fat feck off!

Even my underwear draw got a look in.

I now have a pile of stuff hung on my spare bedroom door waiting to be ebayed (I have, at least, taken the photographs, just need to get round to writing the descriptions and actually listing them).

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Plus a bin liner stuffed with the real rubbish, and bags full of cast offs for the charity shop with more still to come.

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Did I feel liberated? At first, yes. There were things that I was aware should have left the safe haven of my wardrobe a long time ago, that were taking up valuable space and just not being worn. And that bit’s great! But it also made me slightly sad. OK, a lot sad. Sad to the point where I was so sulky I went very quiet and withdrawn and didn’t talk much for the rest of the night. Because it felt like an admission that a part of my life has ended. Disposing of dresses that I still really like but are probably too short for me to wear these days. Trousers that are too tight around the waist. Things that just don’t fit my wardrobe because I’m not in my 20s and going out partying like I used to.

I guess, ultimately, it made me feel old and fat. Which is very dramatic and I feel like I should be putting my hand to my brow and throwing my head back in consternation. Because, at 37 and just under 10.5 stone, I’m neither of those things. But I’m also not 25 and 9.5 stone anymore. That’s the real problem!

I’ll get over it, of course. I rediscovered some things I’d completely forgotten about which is good. And it did give me the kick I needed to stop being such a greedy pig and actually start working to lose the half a stone I need to feel better about myself (instead of just hoping it will happen!) With a tidier wardrobe I’ll actually have space to store my new trainers, so I can go out for a run rather than spending half an hour hopping round wearing just one and cursing my untidy self for losing the other one.

Hotel Review – Cotswold88, Painswick

Sometimes just being away overnight, like we did this weekend, is all it takes to feel like you’ve had a good break. A change of scenery, travelling somewhere, seeing new places – it can make a normal weekend feel like a mini holiday.

It’s also really easy to pack for!

Earlier this year we did just that and went off to the Cotswolds. I had received an overnight stay and dinner as one of my Christmas gifts from ‘im indoors (running out of ways to describe Mr Me on here – maybe I should just stop talking about him) which I was free to book at my leisure. After a whole 4 weeks back at work in the New Year, I was more than ready to get away.

Cotswold88 hotel is stunning. It’s part of the Mr & Mrs Smith hotel collection.

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Painswick – the small village in which it is located – is equally stunning. Dating back to the 11th Century, the village is mentioned in the Doomsday Book. Even on a cold January afternoon, with overcast skies and a howling wind, it was a pleasure to be there.

We arrived at the hotel before the advertised check in time and were invited to leave our bags at reception and either explore the village or make ourselves comfortable in one of the hotel lounges. We headed out to a local pub for some lunch and a mooch around the village.

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Everything is built in Cotswold stone.

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Wanting to make the most of the hotel and it’s sumptuous surroundings, we headed back at around 3pm.

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There are quirky touches around every corner.

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Each of the public rooms is decorated individually.

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A large glass of wine in front of the roaring fire soon brushed off the cold walk around the village.

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I loved these light fittings in the bar.

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The staff were incredibly helpful and friendly; I’d expected an element of stuffiness as can often be the case in boutique hotels but that wasn’t the case at all. We were immediately put at ease on arrival and remained entirely relaxed throughout our stay.

Dinner was delicious. I can’t remember the detail so have just checked the website, only to find that the hotel has been sold! It’s currently undergoing total refurbishment and will be closed until Christmas. It will be interesting to see what happens. The new name is “The Painswick“, which it used to be previously. I got the feeling from some of the locals that the extravagant décor was not to their taste, so maybe it’s going back to the traditional look. It was certainly anything but during our stay!

On Sunday morning we had a look around the churchyard – a grade 1 listed building. There are some very old tombs and monuments, and a plethora of yew trees.

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Would I go back? Not to Cotswold88, obvs, as it doesn’t exist anymore! That’s really surprised me, but also disappointed me as we’d hoped to go back in the summer. But Painswick is definitely worth a visit; even if just part of a short stop on a mini tour around the beautiful Cotswolds villages in the area.