Month: January 2017

The Moseley decline into commercialisation, part 1 – Pizza Express

I’m not technically supposed to support Pizza Express expanding into where I live, because Moseley is and always has been a village that prides itself on supporting independent retailers and being a bit different to your usual High Street.

In fact, when Pizza Express announced it would be opening a restaurant, local campaigners and Moseley stalwarts were up in arms (they seem to forget that we already have a Wetherspoons, a Boots and a Sainsburys local).

I, on the other hand, was quietly delighted (shhh, don’t tell anyone) because it means I can use my Tesco clubcard points to pay for food! I’m nothing if not cheap!

On a serious note though, it’s much better to have thriving businesses than empty premises, and one thing Moseley does have a habit of doing is pricing itself out of the market with high rents, so it’s no wonder that chains with big bank accounts are going to find their way in.

I’ll start by saying I rate Pizza Express pretty highly. OK, so it’s not an authentic Italian experience. But I find the food to be good, with lots of choice, low calorie options and the (few) restaurants I’ve visited have always been quite quirky and cosy with a nice feel. So I had high hopes.

The interior has been designed in tribute to Frederick W. Lanchester, who lived in Moseley and ran a factory at nearby Sparkbrook. The Lanchester Motor Company Ltd was started by Frederick and his two brothers in 1899 and elements of the restaurant’s design take inspiration from the early Lanchester cars, including the large air inlet grills.

Which is a really nice idea.

Imagine, therefore, my disappointment to find that the Moseley restaurant has no charisma. Personally I just found it bland and lack lustre. It’s overly bright, there were only a couple of other diners (not their fault I know, but the atmosphere was non existent), the waiter was too cocky and overly friendly for my liking (I enjoy a bit of banter with restaurant staff but this was too much), and the décor was quite insipid.

Almost worst of all, their Christmas tree was pathetic!

What a missed opportunity (and I don’t just mean the tree).

The food was ok, standard fare, we tried the Christmas special starter of a Manzo croquette and some calamari (is it just me who thinks the starters are very overpriced? If I hadn’t been paying in points I’d have definitely questioned the value). There was a special offer on for a free dessert with a starter and a main course, but we were a bit too tipsy full after our starters and pizzas, so we asked the waiter to give our desserts to an elderly man and his son who were also dining (I did ask them if they wanted them, didn’t just send them over unannounced!)

We also now have a Prezzo and a Costa, much to the disgruntlement of some locals. Costa doesn’t interest me in the slightly because a) coffee and b) we have loads of pubs where I’d rather spend my money on wine! But I’m sure I’ll give Prezzo a visit, in the interest of fairness and all that (and because they also accept Tesco vouchers!)

Do you like chain restaurants? What’s your favourite? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

I love you, but…

I don’t know about you, but my social media newsfeed has a lot of people bemoaning the state of the world, the state of politics, putting each other down, putting women down, denouncing feminism and generally just being pretty grotty to each other.

I mean, there is the odd ray of light, but things generally seem pretty bleak right now.

(and I’m aware that I have contributed to afore mentioned misery, before anyone accuses me of hypocrisy!)

So I thought I’d lighten the mood with this article which collates some of the best tweets about marriage/relationships from last year. I can identify with some of them a lot (not saying which ones though, the husband reads this!) but I will admit that the very first one, about the husband not being able to find anything, is probably the bane of my homelife.

manscan-tweet

The husband can’t look properly. He can only manscan. If there’s something in front of an item he’s looking for, like mustard in front of pepper in the cupboard at mealtime, or a shirt tucked slightly behind another t-shirt in his wardrobe, then it OBVIOUSLY ISN’T WHERE IT SHOULD BE. And guess who’s fault that is? Yep, mine. And guess who has to go and find it, if only to prove him wrong? Yep, me!

Anyway, have a read and have a giggle and let me know if you agree with any of them (or what you would tweet about!)

Also, do point me in the direction of any bright and breezy blog posts you’ve written lately to make me smile!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Trump, the woman hater

I wasn’t going to say anything about this, really I wasn’t; I think I’ve made my stance about my feelings for the President perfectly clear, along with my feelings about abortion and women’s reproductive health.

So you don’t need to hear me rant on about it again.

But I need to acknowledge what that orange fuckwit has done, in the company of other people who don’t own a vagina, to set back women’s rights and women’s health in the whole world, not just on his own doorstep.

trump-signing-abortion-legislation

Aside from the fact that there is nothing wrong with birth control even if you use it purely to avoid pregnancy, what about women who use it for non contraceptive reasons? Women with acne, or endometriosis, or hormone imbalances?

Why and how and why again does Trump think he has the right to fuck about with women’s lives? It’s not like he doesn’t have younger women in his life. He has a much younger wife, and he’s already expressed his attraction to his own daughter (shudder) so he’s not out of touch with women. What on earth could possess him to do this?

And people are still asking why women outside of the US were “bothering to get involved in pointless Women’s Marches”?

This. This is why. Because Trump is already verging into dictator territory, already publicly displaying his contempt for women, and already using his position of power to further his own personal beliefs.

And that’s a danger to women across the globe.

To finish on a lighter note, this was the best placard I saw from one of the UK marches at the weekend.

president-fart

President Fart. President Hot Air. President. President Noisy and Embarrassing. So there.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

An ode to the Obamas

I’ll start this post by sharing my Facebook status from 5.07pm yesterday, as that abominable man came to power.

trump-inauguration-status

But this post isn’t about him. It’s about the departing First Family. Because that’s what they are. Barack’s reign wasn’t just about him. It was about a bigger picture. His wife. His kids. He truly was a President to be revered and respected.

Yes there are statistics around how much he increased national debt, and how many bombs he dropped (uncertified, BTW). But we have to remember that we’re not comparing like with like. Every Presidency is different and faces different challenges than the one before it.

Besides, the measure of a man is not just his leadership skills. It’s his emotions, connections with people, and grace. Barack was the first President to have access to Twitter (which should, by the way, be repealed now the orange moron is in charge. Someone put parental locks on and change his password, please!) He came across as likable, intelligent and real. His “bromance” with VP Joe Biden was heartwarming; and the fact that he referred to it in the latter days of his presidency, as he  awarded him the Medal of Freedom, was fantastic.

I love this video. I truly believe he’s a husband first, and doing a job second.

Barack and Michelle ooze love and respect.

I said it earlier in this post, but he’s real. A real person, with a real sense of humour, real wife and kids, and real emotions. He cares. Being President wasn’t a personal victory for him. It wasn’t a popularity contest. Can we assume the same about the new guy?

(sorry, I forgot, it’s not about him)

So here’s to you, lovely Obamas. And your children. And your legacy. You’ve done good. So good.

barack-and-michelle-obama

And now it’s time to go backwards again (dammit! I can’t help myself!)

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Religion and medicine don’t mix – and nor should they

It was with alarm that I read an article last week regarding a new ruling in the US, which grants medical professionals the right to refuse treatment based on “religious freedom”. Put simply, this means that doctors can refuse to treat a person who is transgender, or a woman who has had an abortion, because of their “beliefs”.

You can read the article here.

religion-and-medicine

(image from Medicine Today)

Quite frankly there is no room for such judgement in medicine. In fact there’s no room for such judgement in life, but bigots will be bigots and some Christians will wheel out the bits of the bible that back up their narrow minded beliefs, whilst ignoring the other bits that may see themselves acting against God’s will (yawn). The latter is a fight too big for anyone to win. But the former is absolutely appalling.

Imagine, perhaps, a woman who has been raped and aborted the resulting pregnancy. Tormented by the attack, potentially tormented by the abortion, and yet a doctor – who should be a trusted and trustworthy individual – can torment her further for a prior circumstantial decision?

Or, how about this, a woman who fell pregnant by mistake, didn’t want a child, and has no guilt about aborting a collection of cells that was unloved and unplanned. It happens, and is nothing to be ashamed of. Why should she be judged and refused healthcare or medical treatment in the future when, actually, she made the right decision in view of the amount of unwanted, mistreated children brought into the world, and the number of kids in children’s homes and care who will probably never be rehomed with a new family.

(sorry, this is turning into a pro-abortion rant which, whilst I feel very very strongly about it, is not the focus of this post. You can read more about my personal views on abortion here – the irony of the post title is not lost on me).

Think of a transgender person, born into the wrong body, living with the wrong identity and genitalia for however many years, hiding themselves for fear of judgement and perhaps being driven to the brink of suicide. Think of that person making the gender transformation and finally feeling free, feeling like the person they actually are, feeling like they can finally live. And then think of a doctor refusing to treat them purely on the grounds of their transition.

Too many people feel they have the right to interfere in decisions that don’t really affect them or their lives. Transgender people and women who’ve undergone abortions are too often ridiculed and vilified by the general public, especially in today’s social media world where everyone thinks they have the right to push their opinion on others. To have that ridicule and vilification reiterated by a medical professional is dangerous. It sends out completely the wrong message to everyone. It instigates a class system; a measure of worthiness to what should be a basic right for everyone in the world.

I see it like this – if you choose medicine as your profession then you deliver that service to everyone who needs it. You don’t get to pick and choose. It should be a vocation, and your priority should be to ensure that people who need medical help receive that medical help; regardless of what they may have done in the past. Because you are a doctor. You’re not God. You don’t get to decide, or judge, or devalue people. You make them better.

Unfortunately I fear this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to healthcare in America. With Donald Trump about to be inaugurated, making him one of the most powerful people in the world (shudder at that thought, and the sheer ridiculousness that it has ever gotten to this point), there is no such thing as a safe future for anything that currently sits in the American constitution. He will lead by emotion and personal belief, regardless of whether it’s right or wrong for the country – the intention to repeal Obamacare is proof of that.

Buckle up Americans. Your future health is at risk, along with who knows what else.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

National Pothole Day?! TWITS!

I haven’t done a Twit of the Day for ages, but this one just screams to be shared!

These days there’s a national day for everything. It used to just be things like Mothers Day, Saints Days and a special day for that Jesus fella, but nowadays every day is a something day!

Case in point – according to the trending hashtags on Twitter, today is National Pothole Day.

national-pothole-day

WHAT????

Why on earth would you need a day for potholes? What are we doing on this day? Thinking of potholes? Celebrating potholes? Adopting a pothole?

Ridiculous, is what it is. Councils should be thinking of (and doing something about) potholes all year round. Not just on one day.

Whoever came up with this is my Twit of the Day!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

5 things to consider if you fail at Dry January

For many people who committed to Dry January, tonight will be the first hurdle to overcome in their journey towards 31 days of sobriety. Last weekend you were probably full of good intentions and feeling smug for having a booze free weekend. Now reality has kicked in with a vengeance, it’s the first full week at work (unless, like me, you’ve been ill), you’ve missed your pyjamas/lie ins/eating chocolate for breakfast and, truth be told, you bloody well deserve a glass of wine for making it through the week.

dry-january

If you do give in to temptation and hit the bottle, don’t despair! Here are 5 things to make you feel better about not doing Dry January (for the record, if anyone’s interested, I made no such commitment and have been happily boozing since January 1st. Not everyday though, obvs).

In the interests of transparency, I have taken inspiration taken from an article in the Metro – where they come up with a whole 13 reasons! Read the full article here

1 – It’s January

Nuff said. Cold, dark nights, ages til Spring and currently with added snow. Alcohol is one of the few joys available at this time of year!

2 – It’s (probably) unsustainable and unnecessary 
Unless you’re planning on becoming tee total all year, Dry January just confuses your body and liver. I did it once and, at the end, I was drunk and asleep on two vodkas. Much better to not deprive yourself and therefore continue your body’s natural tolerance.

3 – You’ll end up wishing part of your year away

For most people it will be something to grit their teeth and endure, therefore wishing it was February already just to crack open a bottle.

4 – Drinking makes you happy

‘Tis true! Most of us can associate with the warm glow that comes with the Friday night glug of a wine bottle being shared (or not shared, in my case) and the softening of the edges of life as the alcohol makes everything that little bit nicer. Contrast with the steely glare of real life for a whole 31 days with nothing to take the sharpness off the corners. No brainer.

5 – Socialising will become a chore

If you have any social occasions, celebrations or outings planned for January and you plan on remaining sober whilst your acquaintances aren’t you should probably start making your excuses now. Schedule for your dog to be ill or your hair to need washing, ‘cos there is nothing fun about being the sober one whilst your pals get merry. And they’ll probably expect a free lift home.

There, you’re reaching for the vino already, no? You’re welcome!

(on a serious note, if you are doing Dry January, then all power to you, and don’t let my inane waffle persuade you otherwise!)

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Just call me Carrie!

When I was younger I was a bit of a party girl, and had a wardrobe full of clothes to match – dresses, skimpy tops, shoes, handbags, the lot.

Later, as my lifestyle changed (and I got older, sob!) I stopped buying those kind of clothes because I didn’t have any need for them anymore.

In my previous job, which was quite corporate, I would dress to suit the environment in shift dresses, jackets and funky shoes, with big oversized bags so I could fit my computer in without having to carry an ugly laptop bag.

Then, when I left and started my current job in a casual office, I got rid of that part of my wardrobe as I had no need for it.

These days I’m all about buying things I’ll wear and that fit my lifestyle.

Apart from sometimes.

Sometimes being this skirt.

new-look-pink-tulle-skirt-carrie-fisher

It’s so SATC and Carrie Bradshaw that I couldn’t not have it. It’s so pretty! I don’t care if I never wear it, and it just hangs on my wardrobe door forever. At a measly £10 in the New Look sale it would be stupid to return it, no? (shopaholic logic right there!)

Have you had any too good to miss sale bargains? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Plans for 2017

Just because I don’t make resolutions, doesn’t mean I don’t make plans. The beginning of a New Year yields opportunities such as a whole load of annual leave to book, as well as a summer of fun, and music to enjoy.

Here are my plans (so far) for 2017.

plans-for-2017

Move house
This is a biggy! We’ve lived in our flat for almost 11 years, even though when we moved in the plan was to only stay for 5. We’ve been so incredibly happy and settled there and never both felt like the time was right to move but now we’re both ready to take the next step (although I’m not looking forward to stairs, I love one level living!) We want a garden where we can have friends round for barbecues and have wooden sunloungers with drinks holders, and we want another spare bedroom which I can have as a dressing room and display all my shoes in an MTV cribs style (yet to be agreed with the husband). Unfortunately we have a very small search area and also need a garage (rarity where we live) so we’re going to end up like those annoying couples on Location, Location, Location who are so picky you just want to shout at the TV that they don’t even deserve a home of their own.

Go to Whitby
Part of my birthday present was a weekend in Whitby, at a future date of my choice. Home of Dracula, Whitby has the stunning abbey ruins, a pretty harbour and the super cool Bats & Broomsticks guesthouse, which is where we’ll be staying. Each room is decorated individually and the candle lit breakfast room is in the basement. It has nothing but brilliant reviews so that’s one to look forward to.

Go to Malaysia
This is booked and in the bag – we fly at the end of April. I’ve always wanted to travel East and although Malaysia has never really been on my radar this appeared as a deal that was way too good to turn down. We’re spending 5 nights in Penang and 3 nights in Kuala Lumpur and it’s very exciting because we’ve never done a trip like this before. Oh, and imagine the food!

See Guns n Roses
I don’t actually love Guns n Roses (I find Axl pretty screechy at times tbh) but I do love some of their songs and the husband has a lifelong love of the band so when they announced a tour with 3 of the 5 original members it was a done deal that we would go. Lots of our friends are going too so it will be a cool day and night out at the Olympic stadium, although the ticket cost of £95 is disgusting, especially when you consider that £9.99 of that is a transaction fee. Per ticket. Bullshit.

Change my car
I do a 60 mile round trip to work each day so the miles have quickly clocked up on my car. I think it might be best to change it now before the mileage gets too high and affects the value, although I have no idea what I want instead.

Get back into blogging
The end of last year was not good for me – I (understandably) lost my mojo and blogging took a back seat. But I’m feeling inspired again with lots to talk about and, having blogged more regularly so far in January, it feels good to be productive again.

Start contributing to My Trending Stories
Last autumn I was contacted on Instagram by a representative for My Trending Stories, inviting me to become a contributor. I’ve seen some people suggesting that the website is trying to piggy back on successful bloggers, but I’m just an iddy biddy blogger with a small audience, so they’re certainly not taking advantage of me! Anyway, it was a compliment to be invited and it’s another outlet to share my thoughts and interact with other people so why not?

I’ve seen lots of resolutions around people eating more healthily, going to the gym, etc but it would be pointless me including them in my plans, because it would be an out and out lie! I can only be who I am, unfortunately!

Have you made any resolutions or plans? Leave me your links in the comments box!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

16 great things from 2016

I’m probably right on the wire of what’s an acceptable time to still be talking about last year (we should be looking forward, not backwards, yada yada yada) but I’ve seen this post on a few blogs I follow and thought it would be a nice way to look back with some fondness on the year that will go down in history as the worst in my life so far (cheery, no?)

So, here – in no particular order (apart from the first one!) are 16 great things that happened to me in 2016!

16-from-2016

1 – The wedding of the year

The last weekend in October will remain a highlight for many many years to come; as we celebrated the marriage of two of our closest friends. As well as it just being all round amazing, I was lucky enough to be a bridesmaid and got to wear the most stunning dress. The day was just the culmination of months of anticipation, planning, get togethers and love. It was perfect the whole way through. Read about it and see pics here.

2 – My first guest post

I was asked by the lovely Estelle from Estellosaurus to write a guest post to be featured on her website. It was truly a surprise and an honour that someone liked my writing enough to put it out there on their own blog, so thank you!

3 – Discovering the Everything 5 Pounds website

This might sound ridiculous, but when did that ever stop me?! One of my work friends introduced to me this website and it’s become a semi addiction. I’ve had loads of stuff so far for not much money, and what’s not to like about that? (anything to indulge my shopping passion)

4 – Eating snails

A bit of a strange one, but when I was in Lyon I tried snails for the first time and REALLY enjoyed them!  I didn’t expect to at all, so it was a nice surprise and something of a personal achievement, if only for the conversational value and seeing some people’s reaction!

5 – True friendship

2016 was a crossroads for me, with some friendship disappointments and hurt. On the plus side, it made me realise just how amazing other people in my life are and brought us even closer through shared experiences and supporting each other.

6 – Instagram

I bloody love Instagram! I like nosing at other people’s photos, I like collating my own photos, and I love chatting to like minded people about clothes and all sorts! Instagram is one of my fave social media platforms. You can find my instaprofile and follow me here!

7 – A new Greek holiday destination

In July the husband and I travelled to a new (to us) destination on mainland Greece, not knowing if it would be as good as our absolute favourite place. But it was just amazing and we had a fabulously relaxed week. You can read about it and see pics here.

8 – Rediscovering our favourite bistro

A late entry this, from my birthday on 20th December, but we went back to a local restaurant which used to be our absolute favourite, and remembered just how much we loved it, They had some problems a couple of years back and closed for a while, and we hadn’t been back since, but it was just as fabulous as we remembered.

9 – Family time

In the midst of losing my Dad in September, I’ve spent some precious family time saying goodbye to him, grieving him, remembering him and loving him. It’s a strange great thing to come from something so horrible, but there it is.

10 – My (almost) half sleeve tattoo

I never ever thought I would have as many tattoos as I have, and when I made the decision to extend my shoulder tattoo earlier this year it was going to just be a quarter sleeve, no lower than t-shirt sleeve length. But I kind of got carried away and it’s now almost a half sleeve, oops! I love it though, and have no regrets whatsoever (good job really, what with it being permanent!)

11 – Inside the Basilica de Notre Dame in Lyon

Our trip to Lyon, as a whole, wasn’t as good as hoped (bad weather and May Day closures being big contributors amongst other things), but the inside of the Basilica was an absolutely jaw dropping moment. It’s one of the most detailed and ornate buildings I’ve ever been, and there was so much to look at and take in. I’m not religious in any way, but I felt quite emotional and overcome with it all. Amazing. You can see lots of pictures here.

12 – A day trip to Chester Zoo

This was just ace. Watching the giraffes for ages was my personal highlight, but the whole place is incredible; very well done, lots of space for the animals, and an all round great day out. Read more about it and see pics here.

13 – Our electric barbecue!

Another slightly odd one, perhaps, but we’re not allowed to have barbecues on our balcony as ruled by the management company, so the discovery of an electric barbecue by the persistent husband brought our world of outdoor eating back! We had some lovely summer evenings in our little space in the sky, and some yummy food too.

14 – Our friends renewing their wedding vows

In August some friends of ours renewed their wedding vows and invited us to share their celebrations in a ceremony and garden party at their home. We had such a wonderful day of love and laughter, which brings a warm glow whenever I think about it. Read more about it and see some pics here.

15 – Coming to the joint decision to move house

Over the years there have been times when the husband has wanted to move but I haven’t, or the other way round. 2016 was the time when both our mindsets aligned, and we decided that yes, we’re ready to leave our flat and move into a more grown up home with a garden and more space. It’s mega exciting and became a huge focus for us at the end of the year as we look around and decide what kind of home we want and where.

16 – The husband

Sorry for the soppy ending but it’s true – the husband was my rock through such dark and difficult times. It wasn’t always plain sailing and it hasn’t been all hearts and flowers (we can both be somewhat challenging, me way more so) but ultimately I know he has my back and will support me, and that means a lot.

Have you done a post like this, or a yearly round up? Leave me your links, I’d love to have a nosy!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x