Month: November 2016

5 things that annoy me about Black Friday

Obviously I’m not averse to money off deals, because that would be really stupid, but I’m so sick of hearing about Black Friday!

black-friday

Here’s why:

  1. The clue’s in the name. Friday. If you’re still advertising Black Friday deals the following Tuesday, you clearly don’t understand the Gregorian calendar. The same goes for pre-Black Friday deals. If you’re doing them early then it’s just a sale.
  2. It’s a US tradition (and has been since 1952, according to Wikipedia) that the UK has latched on to, seemingly just for the hell of it, to keep up with our American cousins. Stores can’t just have a pre-Christmas sale now, it has to be a Black Friday discount. Why?
  3. A lot of the Black Friday deals really aren’t all that. Surely the idea is to issue a massive discount on products that is only available once a year? Not 20% off and free delivery from High Street stores, who regularly issue discount codes and sale offers. Make it 30% plus and it might look attractive and different to you usual discounts
  4. It creates a furor of activity, anger and rudeness in stores, as people fight over a new TV (that they probably don’t need) or trample each other to get to cheap Christmas toys for their kids
  5. It’s now spawning other stupid and pretend days, like Cyber Monday! Which is fine, if it was just cyber deals, but I’ve had emails from clothes shops advertising Cyber Monday deals too. Stop jumping on the bloody bandwagon!

Although I’d love to see any Black Friday bargains you guys have bought, let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

A change of Christmas heart

I’ve struggled with the idea of Christmas this year. It was quite obvious, even from this time last year, that my Dad wouldn’t here for Christmas 2016. And although Christmas isn’t a time I associate with my Dad (he thought it was a commercial waste of time!) it’s still tough when there’s a massive gap in your life at a special time of year.

I’ve also been finding Christmas more and more stressful as years have progressed. I have always absolutely loved the festive time of year, but in recent times I find it more difficult to buy presents for people (everyone just already has everything) and the lead up just becomes one big self induced hassle with me still wrapping presents and swearing at midnight on Christmas Eve.

So, this year, I have been quite vociferous in my disdain for the impending season, poo-pooing the idea of wasting time and money on Christmas presents and generally being a bit of a grouch. I’ve been actively encouraging people not to bother buying me anything, and suggesting we spend our money on holidays or meals out or anything that doesn’t require me racking my brains on what to buy whilst simultaneously wishing everything Christmassy would go away. That’s not to say I don’t intend to celebrate. Food, drink and time off work, what’s not to like? I just don’t feel actively engaged (baring in mind I’m usually buying presents as early as September).

Then, last week, I had a tiny inkling of festive spirit in a work trip to Llandudno (I know, all the glamour). The festive lights were sparkling and the decorations were up in the pub and I felt a little flutter of excitement, which I quickly tried to stifle.

peeking-santa-claus-christmas-is-coming

But the following day, my Dad’s wife (who was of a similar opinion to me) told me that she’d bought some new Christmas decorations, and had decided that we couldn’t and shouldn’t ignore it because, although my Dad didn’t love Christmas, he knew that we both did and he wouldn’t want us to not celebrate or be miserable. And it made a lot of sense. Not only that, if she can be brave and decorate her home and face her first Christmas alone, then I should bloody well do it too! When the husband and I first got together he was a Christmas Grinch because his Dad had gotten ill at Christmas and he associated it with bad times. And I cajoled him and encouraged him and sweet talked him out of that and into a state of Christmas happiness, so I can’t take that away from him, especially when I worked so hard!

The upshot is that I have gone into present buying overdrive (which, strangely, I’m finding much easier than expected and even enjoying!) I smile at Christmas songs on the radio and I’ve established a date for putting our decorations up at home. Because, as the saying goes, life goes on. And I know my Dad would want that too.

Ooh, and I’ve been asked to write a guest post for Estellosaurus, which is all about my Christmas traditions, so it’s a good job I’ve had a change of heart as otherwise I would have had to say no, which is pretty rude when someone has made a kind offer (I’ve never been asked to do a guest post before). Have a pop on over to her blog and sigh with wonderment at her amazing blue hair! You can also follow her on instagram and Twitter.

How are you feeling about Christmas? Do you like it/love it/loathe it? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Hormone based contraception when you’re over 35

I’ve been on the pill since I was 17. I’ve been happily taking Microgynon, which is an oestrogen and progesterone pill for 21 days in a row, then having a 7 day break and repeat.

During a recent check up I asked a nurse when it would need to be reviewed, because I’m aware of my advancing years (ick). She told me I would be fine until I reach 40. As I have no intention of reaching 40 (at 39 I’ll start counting backwards) I worried my little head not.

When I put my last repeat prescription request in, only 1 month was returned instead of the usual 3, with a note that I needed to see the nurse. Assuming this was for a standard blood pressure test I thought no more about it.

Arriving at my appointment, the nurse said “I assume you know why you’re here, we need to change your contraception”. Cough, splutter, what? Why? I don’t want to! “Well, you’re over 35 now, and that’s the boundary we set on combined pill taking.” And off she set in outlining the alternatives.

The most straightforward swap is onto a progesterone only pill – the “mini” pill. This is taken every day with no break. You probably don’t get a period and only have a 12 hour window in which to take it (with Microgynon it’s 24 hours). Now, call me bonkers, but I’m quite fond of having a period every month. It lets me know that nothing untoward is going on in the womb region, and no little critters have been fertilised and implanted themselves (I know there are the odd exceptions to this, but generally it’s peace of mind). I’m incredibly lucky to have never suffered with my periods, they’re very light, very pain free and I don’t get PMT (unless the P stands for Permanent, in which case the husband may disagree). Plus my Mom reckons it’s healthy for your body to do it’s natural thing (albeit unnaturally as forced by hormones but, y’know). And, to my shame, I’m sometimes a little bit tardy with my pill taking. Maybe I’ll forget to take it in the evening and do it next morning. But perhaps its the weekend and I have a lie in. A new pill needs a new regime. What if I forget and then don’t have a period to set my mind at rest? And then, horror of horrors, what if I end up like one of those women in Take a Break magazine who think they need the loo and a baby drops out? No, no, noooooo!

Alternative one is a contraceptive implant. I’m not sure about this. The concept behind it seems pretty wishy washy (although I’m sure it’s not) plus they have to cut your skin to get it underneath. I’m not squeamish with things like needles and ops, but they like to put it in the opposite arm to the one you write with, and no way am I having my tattoo cut in anyway! Plus I’m a picker and a messer and I know if there’s something I can feel under my skin then I’ll play with it. Yes I’m a 38 year old child.

Alternative two is an IUD (the coil). My initial reaction to this was absolutely not, as I know my Mom had lots of issues and complications when I was young. But the nurse said problems were generally associated with the copper coil, and there are very few issues with the new plastic one.

So, I leave the surgery with a 3 month mini pill prescription and a couple of leaflets.After a quick perusal I decide I’m going to make an appointment for an IUD, which I share with the husband. “Really?” he asks. “You know that you can feel the strings, don’t you?” This is news to me. I’m not sure how he knows this, since he was quite obviously a virgin at the age of 34 when we got together but he assures me that sometimes the man is able to feel the strings during shenanigans. Google research confirms this and I’m shocked. This seems like a rather odd state of affairs (is it just me that didn’t know this and think it’s incredibly odd that women all over the world are tickling their sexual partners from the inside?)

My Mom further adds to the anti IUD argument. “They’re not very reliable, people get pregnant on them”. So I look at the reliability statistics on the leaflets that I’ve so far only given a cursory glance, and the difference is staggering. There’s a less than 1 in 500 chance over 5 years of getting pregnant if you have a coil. Say what? Those odds still seem pretty high to me. What if I was the 1 in 500?

Unwillingly, and somewhat uneasily, I’ve switched to the mini pill as suggested.

feanolla-mini-pill-contraception

I’m assured there are less mood altering side effects than the combined pill, which is a good job, because I really value my marriage and I’m not sure it could stand a change in my mental welfare, as things get pretty horrible when that happens.

I’ll let you know how I get on!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Silver boots of joy

I’ve been wanting a pair of silver boots for quite a while, but something quite subtle that I can wear on an everyday basis (as subtle and every day as a pair of silver boots can be). By that I mean not too high a heel, no extreme pointy toes or platform soles and not too shiny.

I had my eye on these from ASOS, and then spotted they went into the sale and there was an extra 10% off, making them a stupendously cheap £18.45.

These are actually one step beyond silver – they’re iridescent! Yup, they have a beautiful holographic rainbow sheen that changes from green to yellow to pink depending on the angle. They have a block heel, a square toe and inside zip, they’re super soft and squishy and I’m a little bit in love with them.

Now you may think that rainbow silver boots don’t transcend into daywear. And you may be right. But I like quirky footwear and I’m not afraid to go a bit left of centre, so I’m going to give it a ruddy good go. I’m thinking baggy black jumper, black skinnies and minimal accessories. Or, in nicer weather (big sigh) baggy white tee and rolled up blue skinny jeans with pared down make up and straight hair. After all, metallics are a neutral, in wardrobe terms.

On the flip side, they’ll also look great for a night out; especially to a gig where I want to glam up a bit but can’t bear the thought of standing in high heels for hours.

The final reason I had to have them is that I can imagine them adorning the feet of the inimitable David Bowie during the Ziggy Stardust days. Super sparkly pretty rainbow 70s rock star boots for less than twenty English pounds? Yes indeedy; welcome to my wardrobe!

Buoyed by my first purchase I was thrilled to spot another, definitely more daywear friendly, pair in Primark. At a purse pleasing £10 there was no way these weren’t coming home with me. They’re pull on, chunky and very comfortable. And the perfect foil to a rainy day like today. The skies may be grey, but my feet most definitely aren’t!

Are you a funky footwear fan? Loving metallic? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Off the cuff at Zara

(silently congratulating myself on my oh-so-clever post title!)

I’m a big fan of a quirky cuff so when I spotted some interesting arms at Zara I placed an order and crossed my fingers.

On arrival I selected the most pleasingly flappy items, and here they are for your perusal!

First up, these basic-with-a-twist long sleeved tees. The fabric is very fine, so may need layering over a contrasting coloured tee for colder days. They’re slightly ribbed and the fabric basically isn’t stitched on the inside of the wrist, giving a slight flare. Burgundy is a winter fave of mine anyway, and the black is just worth having, because.

This one is a really soft t-shirt fabric and the cuffs are more of a waterfall ruffle.

And finally this one, which is again ribbed but has a bit of a sheen, and sleeves so long and bell shaped that eating whilst wearing will be a complete no no!

I love the 70s vibe to these and I’m going to pair them with flared jeans, which I’m totally loving right now.

On a side note, Zara’s styling and models really don’t do the clothes justice. They look so bloody miserable and gangly and awkward. Anyone agree?

Are you a Zara fan?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

5 blogger craves I just don’t get

Scrolling through various social media platforms there are certain things that come up time and time again – and each time I think to myself I just don’t “get” it. The only way I can explain it is I feel like an undeserved hype has developed around these things that is, in my opinion, over-rated. So I thought I’d share them with you and see if anyone agrees (or am I just a square blog peg in a round blog hole!)

Lush

lushHow anyone can spend any length of time in a Lush store without choking is beyond me – it’s just so smelly! Overwhelmingly overpowering, with so many different scents cloying against each other; it gives me an instant headache. Not only that, it seems bloomin’ expensive for what it is (then again, I’m not really the pampering type, so that has an impact on my feelings). You could count the amount of times I’ve been in a Lush store on one hand. Most recently I popped in a couple of weeks ago, to look for a lip scrub (I’ve read good things about them) but the flavours were just too icky sickly sweet and I couldn’t find one that agreed with me. I think some people buy into the prettiness and the ownership and sharing thereof rather than the actual products (I will admit that a Lush soap bar is imminently more instagrammable than a bottle of Nivea showergel).

Autumn

autumnFrom 1st September my Twitter and Instagram feeds were filled with people getting excited about leaves changing colour and wrapping up in boots and jumpers. No! Autumn, for me, is a time of mourning – lamenting the end of summer and feeling sad about less daylight and saying goodbye to sandals. Not only that, autumn is ridiculously unpredictable and difficult to dress for, meaning an outfit that’s appropriate at 8am may leave you sweltering by midday. It would be better to go from summer straight to winter, literally overnight. Then at least you know what you’re dealing with.

Starbucks

starbucksThis is partially down to the fact that I’m not a coffee drinker (I have one double espresso at home, every morning, and that’s it – I don’t actually like long coffees) and I really don’t understand the terminology and all the choice! I mean, what is a mocha Frappuccino caramel latte anyway? But it’s also down to the cost (so expensive!) and the calories (so much sugar!) I don’t understand paying for posh coffee. I don’t understand the modern obsession with coffee shops. I’d much rather to go to the pub and have a glass of wine. Even if it is breakfast time.

MAC

mac

This is, I think, another cult brand that some people buy into because of the kudos of ownership, rather than because it truly is a better product. Blog posts sharing a MAC lipstick stash are common, but I don’t see anyone doing the same with their Rimmel lippies. I can’t genuinely comment on the quality or value because I’ve never used any MAC products. I couldn’t justify spending so much money on a lipstick because I have a habit of losing them. My bad.

Yankee candles

yankee-candles

I like candles. I like nice smells. I don’t like paying a whole heap of cash for something that I’m just going to set on fire! Seriously, candle burn times are generally pretty short, so on a cost per use basis I don’t understand why you would bother. I have a habit of falling asleep in front of the TV which means that some of the burn time and fragrance would be a complete waste of time. I’ll stick to my Ikea tealights, thanks.

So, what do you think? Am I nuts? Miserable? Tight? Hit me up with your thoughts (or let me know which craves you don’t buy into).

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

GIG REVIEW: Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown O2 Academy Birmingham

The husband and some friends have been waxing lyrical about this band for a while now, so when we saw they were playing at the O2 Academy in Birmingham we jumped at the chance to go and see them live. They were supporting The Cadillac Three, who held less appeal, but at just £15 a ticket it was still good value.

Weekday gigs are often a bit of a struggle as I have a 30 mile drive home, a portion of which is currently plagued with roadworks and slow traffic, and getting back into the city centre for a support band isn’t easy. At one point it looked like we might miss them, but fortuitously their stage time was later than we expected and we got to see the entirety of their set.

Wow. What a great great band. From Nashville, they play Bluesy Southern rock with meaty bass guitar and chunky drums. The eponymous front man, Tyler, is full of energy, charm and swagger, plays guitar like a demon and looks like he’s just stepped out of the late 60s. At just 25 years old he’s already had a lot of exposure and acclaim from a young age, and the band have opened for rock legends like Aerosmith, AC/DC and ZZ Top. His steel guitar playing was outstanding and vocally he’s raspy, gritty and growly – like a rock and roll singer should be.

tyler-bryant-the-shakedown-o2-academy-birmingham-2

Musically there’s a lot of 60s and 70s influences too, and a touch of country alongside good old rock n roll. Special mention to Caleb Crosby who’s drum solo at the front of the stage towards the end was as exhilarating for the audience as it must have been exhausting for him.

tyler-bryant-the-shakedown-o2-academy-birmingham-3

Humble, gracious and polite (thanking the crowd for spending their money and supporting live music, praising the venue and the audience) it was all together an outstanding gig experience. A really cool band, with charisma for days, who I’ll most definitely be checking out again.

tyler-bryant-the-shakedown-o2-academy-birmingham-4

As a footnote, headliners The Cadillac Three didn’t ding our dong. We hung around for a couple of songs but they’re so Southern that the song lyrics were unintelligible and they came across as a bit of a bad parody. Sorry guys! On the plus side this meant that I was at home in pyjamas by 10pm! Rock n fuckin’ roll!

If anyone has any suggestions of bands I should be checking out, let me know!

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this live video so you can judge for yourself.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

I feel partly to blame…

Last time I was out of the country, Boris Johnson was announced as the new foreign minister in the UK.

This time, while I was in Fuerteventura, the orange buffoon has done the unimaginable and managed to get himself elected as US President.

donald-trump-and-boris-johnson

I’m going to Malaysia in April, so I can only apologise in advance for what might happen…

On a serious note, what the actual fuck? Just, how? It’s alarming to think there are so many people in the US who agree with a misogynistic, racist, homophobic bully. Or that there are people who voted for Trump because they don’t like Clinton. That’s not a good reason for voting, people!

I can only hope that the powers behind the President, the people who really run the country, can keep him and his crazy ideas in check. I can imagine the US feels like a very foreign land for a good portion of society right now, and feeling like an outcast in a place that you call home is not a good way to have to live.

I’d love to know your thoughts, drop me a comment!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

A post about friendship

I’ve read two articles recently, both in Stylist magazine, that have really resonated with me.

friendship

The first is about having and needing less friends as you get older.

The second is about assessing friendships and taking stock of the benefits.

Friendship can be a funny thing, especially in the days of social media where it’s easy to get to know people quickly and fairly intimately without actually seeing much of them in real life. It also makes it easy to stay in the loop with existing friends. Because of Facebook we know what people we know have done over the weekend, where they’ve booked up to go on holiday, what they had for dinner last night. I’m not saying this as though it’s a bad thing. I think it’s great. It keeps us closer in a way we’ve never had before, and I believe it keeps friendships alive where they may have drifted apart due to time or distance.

Text messages too mean it’s easier to stay in touch. A quick “hello, how are you” can be sent from my desk, whereas I couldn’t be making personal calls in the office. While they can limit the art of making telephone calls (I keep in touch with friends mainly by text rather than speaking to them physically) the ability to keep in more frequent touch is a definite benefit.

Back to the articles. As you get older friendships are more about quality than quantity. In my 20s I had loads of clubbing friends, but in truth the thing we had in common was going out and having fun. A lot of them, outside of that, I’d have nothing to talk to about. It’s so easy to think we have lots of friends when, in truth, it’s easy to mistake friendship with acquaintance.

I also think that, with age, your bullshit detector becomes more accurate. Whether that’s someone not being nice to you or to people around you; not treating you as you would treat them; or just not exhibiting the characteristics you want in a friend, you’re much more likely to pick up on it and deal with it as you age.

Plus, friendships are cyclical. Another Stylist article (this is not my lifestyle bible, I promise!) suggests that the 7 year itch is a real thing – in friendship. A friendship that is everything you want at one point, may not be at another future point in time. And that’s ok. The trick is to realise it, acknowledge it, and move on. Don’t flog a dead horse. I’m not saying walk away at the slightest hint of things not being great. But recognise when a situation has changed. It doesn’t necessarily mean not being friends anymore (and by that I mean real friends, not Facebook friends). It just means knowing that the intensity of your relationship has passed and can’t be recreated.

That leads me on to friends not being there for you at a time of need. There’s a lot of truth in the old saying “treat other people as you would want to be treated”. I’m not always the best friend to have on board. I don’t think any of us are always the best we can possibly be. Life and work and money gets in the way. But there are some circumstances where you know you would be there for a person, even if it’s just to check in and see how they’re doing. And it’s not unreasonable to expect the same in return.Going back to how easy it is to stay in touch with people, a text or a Facebook message is quick and easy to send, and can mean a lot to a person having a rough time. Feeling uncared for by the very people who should be there for you hurts. If you’re in a horrible, miserable, challenging or upsetting situation, the last thing you need is the extra emotion that comes with feeling like your pals don’t have your back.

I know. I’ve been there.

On the plus side, challenging times separate the wheat from the chaff (another cliché for you). It’s fairly easy to be a friend when times are easy; when it’s all about having fun and going out and light hearted laughs. But real true binding friendship happens when times are tough. When you need to be a rock for someone. When you need them to know that you’re there. When you can honestly say you’re supporting them in the same way you would want them to support you.

To be able to let go of a friendship, for whatever reason, is an admirable quality, and one that comes with time. To reach that destination I think you probably have to travel through anger, bitterness and disbelief first. It’s a journey that can be long and arduous. Just make sure you have real friends around you for the ride.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

And the bride wore…black…

I think I’ve mentioned on here that I was lucky enough to be asked by two of my amazing friends to be a bridesmaid at their wedding. Right from the off it was obvious that it wouldn’t be a conventional wedding, so I was totally unsurprised when the bride told me her dress would be black.

its-a-nice-day-for-a-black-wedding

I was also unsurprised at them selecting a gothic venue which would be a dramatic backdrop to a stunning day.

We had the most amazing time. The husband and I, along with some of the wedding party, stayed over on Saturday night, so were able to get a feel for the venue and the surroundings. Sunday, the day of the wedding, was just amazing from beginning to end. The venue, Ettington Park Hotel, has chapel ruins in the grounds which is where they hoped to marry. We’ve eagerly kept an eye on the weather forecast, hoping for the best but fearing the worst for the end of October. We needn’t have worried. It was a really mild day with a light element of mist that gave an atmospheric eeriness to proceedings. Everything went perfectly, from getting ready, through to the ceremony, through to pictures, the wedding breakfast and the party in the evening. I stumbled off to bed at 4.30am full of happiness, love and joy. It was an absolutely fantastic weekend.

I got to wear a beautiful dress, which was bought as a plain purple frock and then custom decorated with black lace.

purple-and-black-lace-bridesmaid-dress

The husband and I had strong shoe game; check out those purple suede boots! (he was one of the best men – there were three)

bridesmaid-sandals-and-best-man-purple-suede-boots

The timing, the day before Halloween, obviously lent itself to themed decorations which could, quite easily, have fallen into tacky territory. It was quite the opposite. Quirky, with little bits and bobs here and there, hand painted bottles and brightly painted pumpkins in little nooks and crannies, lots of black lace and floral decorations. Everywhere we looked there was something to marvel at, subtle spooky skeletons and bough after bough of ivy with 2 full size skeletons in bridal wear positioned in the hotel entrance.

The best thing I can do to give you an insight is to share some pics with you. Just visually stunning.

Photographs by myself, various guests and the amazing official photographer Sassy at Assassynation

Cake by Little Cherry Cake Company

Aside from the sheer beauty and fun of it all, it really was an honour and a privilege to see our dear friends get married. They’re so great together, so right for each other and so in love that not one person in the room could have questioned whether they were doing the right thing, and that’s really what it’s all about. Take away the beautiful outfits, the gorgeous backdrop and the brilliant party, and their relationship is the same now they’re married as it was before. They have a relationship built on laughter, not taking each other too seriously and mutual respect, as well as adoration, and a marriage certificate is just the icing on the cake for them. Being part of their day was such a beautiful thing and I was so touched and excited to be asked; I’ll treasure the memories of the day and their ongoing friendship forever.

Oh, and I’ll also treasure this, possibly the coolest wedding photograph ever!

purple-and-black-gothic-wedding-party-group-shotPhotograph by Sassy at Assassynation

I can’t think of anyone who’s getting married next year, and that makes me really sad. I love a good wedding!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x