Month: September 2017

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s first public appearance

First things first, I’m not a royalist. But I don’t dislike them. I mean, we’re a country that’s known for it’s Royal family, and it’s not like they’re going to disappear anytime soon (and, if they did, we’d have Theresa May as our head of state which is, quite frankly frightening). I truly believe they bring in a lot of tourist money to the country, and the Queen is an absolute stalwart. I wouldn’t want my Nan still working in her 90s. Plus imagine how hard it must be to be Queen? You always have to be nice to people, and there’s the distinct possibility that you’ll have to sit down to dinner with that oaf Donald Trump. In fact I wrote a post about why I’d hate to be Queen a while ago. Have a read!

Anyway, I digress. I think the younger Royals, William and Harry, are doing a lot to improve the face of the monarchy. It doesn’t feel forced either. I don’t think they’re doing it for popularity; purely because they’re younger, they’re more in touch with society, and they’re more aware of real life than their older relatives. Not to mention the fact that they’ve suffered real tragedy. Yes they may have had a charmed life in terms of money, education and where they live, but they’ve grown up without a Mom, which is ridiculously tough on anyone, regardless of whether your background is privileged. I like that they spoke openly about their grief and their experiences during the recent TV coverage of 20 years since Princess Diana’s death. Their human side is definitely what will keep the monarchy relevant for years to come.

Rumours abound that H is about to propose to Meghan Markle, and I even read one article that said he already has but the Palace are sorting out the timing of the announcement so that it doesn’t overshadow other occasions. If that’s true, it’s bonkers! I also read that if they do get married, Meghan will have to be known as Princess Rachel, because Meghan is actually her middle name so she’ll have to go by her actual name. But Harry isn’t called Harry, his name is Henry?

It’s such a shame that they can’t just be dating without the press being so keen to marry them off. It’s a lot of pressure on both of them.

Anyway, no doubt bowing to “popular demand”, Meghan Markle appeared in Vanity Fair magazine last week and spoke about her relationship with Harry. And I think they summed it up perfectly, they’re two people who are in love. That’s all that really matters. The photographs that have started to appear from Invictus Games events show them looking relaxed and happy, holding hands and laughing, which is exactly what they should be doing at this stage in their relationship.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

They shouldn’t have to be bowing to pressure to make statements, or get engaged, or anything that they’re not comfortable or ready to do. They shouldn’t really be under such scrutiny by the Press either, especially when Harry has asked for the scummy paparazzi to back off and leave them alone, and even more especially after what happened with Princess Di.

I thought it was especially nice that Meghan didn’t sit front and centre during the launch event; instead sitting a few rows back. It was reported that she didn’t want to take any attention from the focus of the event – the games and the incredible athletes taking part. And rightly so.

Of course, that scuzzbucket Piers Morgan couldn’t help himself but to have an opinion. And opinions are fine, everyone’s entitled to them. But where he proved his scuzzbucket qualities was referring to Meghan Markle as “the woman that Harry is having sex with”. Say what? Not actress, or philanthropist, or even Harry’s partner? No, instead he demeaned her, reducing her existence to a woman who is purely there for Harry’s pleasure. What a disgraceful human being he is.

To finish on a brighter note, how amazing are the athletes in the Invictus Games? Ex servicemen and women from around the world who may have been injured in conflict; using the power of sport to rehabilitate and give themselves a focus. To see them given a world platform and to shine is incredible.

Do you like the Royals? Let me know your thoughts on it all!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Friday Feeling [18] – I’m Ju to the Di

A bit of fun for today’s Friday Feeling.

Dame Judi Dench, aged 82, Shakespearean actor, theatre performer, Oscar nominated, Academy Award winning, Queen Elizabeth playing, James Bond legend and OBE…

…rapping with Lethal Bizzle.

Dame Judi Dench and Lethal Bizzle

Yes, you read that correctly.

Words can’t do justice to how fab it it, so I implore you to watch the clip!

Go Judi!

Have a great weekend and thanks, as always, for reading. x

#280 characters

So Twitter have announced they’re going to double the length of characters to be used in each tweet, from the current 140 to a whopping 280.

Twitter logo

Apparently it’s for the benefit of people who’s languages are more verbose. Which is fair enough – I mean have you ever seen some German words?

Personally I can’t really get on board with Twitter. I just don’t find it that engaging. Twitter users from the blogging community tend to be quite cliquey (controversial, I know) and I see a lot of ass kissing and bullshit on there that I just don’t find necessary or want to partake in. A lot of people use it to say the most inane stuff, which just seems pointless to me. And I think you need to use it pretty much constantly through the day to build up a real rapport and following.

I’m so negative, maybe I’m the problem!

Obviously from a work point of view I use Twitter a lot more, and the increased Tweet size will be useful, but I think the beauty of Twitter has always been it’s bite size nature; you can scroll through the screen and skim read 140 characters pretty quickly, whereas something longer requires more digestion and concentration. It will be interesting to see how it works out, and if it sticks.

What do you think?

On the off chance that you want to follow me in spite of my moaning and protestations, you can find me on Twitter here!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

5 things I say regularly when I’m driving

Great news today that, thanks to a Royal decree, women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to drive. It’s impossible to comprehend such a level of sexism being acceptable in a modern day society, but obviously Middle Eastern countries operate differently to those in the West. It’s worth celebrating; Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women aren’t currently allowed to hold a driving licence. Who knows, it may be the start of further equality in the country (but let’s not hold our breath).

The UK government recently announced that learner drivers in England, Scotland and Wales will now be allowed on a motorway in a dual control car (i.e. with a driving instructor). Personally I’m amazed it’s taken this long for the rules to be changed. Motorway driving is quite different from normal road driving in terms of pace, speed and distances, and it seems ludicrous to me that a new driver is allowed onto such a potentially dangerous highway without any previous hands on learning or supervision.

My little sis passed her test in December last year, and bought her first car in January. She announced a few weeks back that she’d recently been on the motorway for the first time “by accident” but “it was all ok” because she “recognised all the road signs” Phew, eh?! Now, not everyone is as much of a dolly daydream as my sis (sorry Jess!) but there are people out there with little road awareness behind the wheel of a potential killing machine that puts everyone on the road at risk. Dramatic? Yes. True? Very.

5 things - the driving edition

I’m not a particularly patient driver, the fact that I’m always running slightly late means I have no patience for people who dilly dally on the roads, but I do always drive safely and with full awareness of what’s going on around me. Which is much needed because some people either a) don’t have a licence, b) have forgotten how to drive, or c) think the rules of the road don’t apply to them.

My recent experience of driving in Greece, on our day out in the Mani Peninsula, was exactly that – an experience! Apart from the fact that the steering wheel and gear stick were in the wrong place, the mountain roads coupled with the craziness of Greek drivers made for some hairy times! Greek drivers think nothing of overtaking on a bend on the edge of a cliff when a truck is coming in the opposite direction and I admit that a couple of times I just held my breath and expected the worst. The taxi driver who took us to the airport said that it’s because local people know the mountain roads so well, and know what they can and can’t get away with, but surely they don’t know what’s coming the other way?! He was also quite disparaging of drivers from other countries, so I guess we all have a higher opinion of ourselves on the road than that of other people.

Here are 5 things I can be heard saying on a regular basis!

“You’re welcome”

This is dripping with sarcasm, usually shouted at someone who has failed to acknowledge that I’ve given them right of way and let them through. Rudeness – both on the road and in everyday life – really gets my goat. There’s no need for it.

“Got no indicators?”

Often aimed at, but not restricted to, BMW drivers (sorry to generalise, but they do seem to be the worst offenders). Seriously, how difficult is it to flick the little purpose built, conveniently placed stick so that the rest of the world knows which way you’re planning to go?

“You could get a bus through there!”

People who drive a small car but think it has the dimensions of a tank. Know your vehicle and know what it is and isn’t capable of! Don’t wait for a gap the size of 3 lorries to carry on your way.

“Put your foot down, love”

People who drive below the speed limit. What is that all about? The fact you’re in a car suggests you have somewhere to be, so why not drive at the allowed limit and get there a little bit faster? There is no excuse for driving more slowly than you’re allowed to on most general roads.

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

The amount of people who drift into the wrong lane, cut you up, blast their horn when they’re in the wrong, gesticulate wildly or just act like knobheads on the road is unreal. So it makes me feel better to shout. Not at them. Just about them. It’s purely a rhetorical question for releasing anger!

Do you drive? Do you enjoy it? Do you get cross at people like I do?! I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

 

A day out in the Mani Peninsula, Greece – part 2

After spending the morning visiting the Diros Caves and Gythio, we started heading back towards Stoupa, planning to stop at Areopoli on the way. Areopoli is a small mountain village with typical stone houses, small winding streets and small nooks and crannies. There’s very little to do there, and wandering round doesn’t take more than about 20 minutes (even with photos) but it’s a super quaint and picturesque place that we were very happy we visited.

Take a look for yourself!

Isn’t bougainvillea just the prettiest flower? I wish it would grow in the UK, I’d cover my house in it!

Imagine having this little nook to swing in?

Areopoli archway swing

 

I loved the umbrella avenue. These had actual lightbulbs in, I bet they look so pretty at night.

With the afternoon heading towards evening, we started the long winding mountain drive back to Stoupa, having had a fabulous day, but somewhat relieved that the mountain driving on the opposite side of the road was over!

Read part 1 of our day out in the Mani here.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Friday Feeling [17] – love before status

In the embodiment of the saying “love makes the world go round” a Japanese princess is giving up her royal title in order to marry the man she loves.

In Japanese tradition, if a female royal marries “a commoner” she must renounce her Royal status. Annoyingly, male royals are allowed to marry whoever they choose without having to give up their status, but that’s a rant for another day.

Such is Princess Mako’s love for her boyfriend of 5 years, that she believes it’s worth giving up the rights she was born with in order to be with him. That’s the power of love.

Princess Mako and Kei Komuro

All together now, awwwww!

Read the full story here.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

The last “first”

It’s been a year today since my Dad died. A whole 12 months. That’s a long time. A lot happens in 12 months. Things change. People change.

This is the last “first”.

We had the first week after he died, then the first month. Getting back from the first holiday without him being at the end of a phone wanting to know everything in detail. Then there was my birthday, with no phonecall from him pretending to have forgotten how old I was, the first Christmas without him, swiftly followed by what would have been he and his wife’s wedding anniversary. The first birthday in March, and his wife’s birthday in April. The husband and I moved house – a major life event that he would have been so proud of. Our first return to Stoupa, a place he loved so much but didn’t make it back to before he died due to chemotherapy.

And now, today, the first year of him not being here anymore.

Loss

It hurts. I know it will always hurt, but today I’m thrown back to that last day so vividly; the early morning phonecall from his wife telling me I needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible; the panic at the build up of traffic as I tried frantically to get there, close family around his bedside, the kindness of the nurses during the long long hours that followed. Hearing his breathing slow down and holding his hand; wanting him to stay for selfish reasons but willing him to go so he wasn’t suffering anymore. And the emptiness afterwards, when he’d breathed his last and we talked to him and cried – as much for ourselves and our massive loss, as for him.

Today is also my wedding anniversary. Rotten timing eh? I’m thankful everyday for the husband. The support he’s given me during this past year has been immense. He’s ace.

So it’s a day of smiling and sadness, all intermingled, as I think of the two most important men in my life now and always.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

 

September summer buys

Every year, 31st August makes me sad. As much as I try to deny it, I know it signifies the end of summer.

Come 1st September I develop a sense of bullishness that NO, it’s is STILL summer, and I definitely WILL NOT give in to pre-ordained seasons and the associated expectations, and I will damn well WEAR MY SANDALS.

The last couple of years I’ve taken it a step further, not only wearing sandals but actively still buying them, as though this extra step will in some way push back Mother Nature and her creeping leaf changing and temperature drops. And this year is no exception.

Since getting back from holiday I’ve bought not one but 3 new pairs of sandals! Yep, while most women are getting excited about new season clothes and counting down the hours to pumpkin latte o’clock I’m still buying summer sandals, baring my toes and pretending that we’re heading towards high summer, not the depths of winter.

So, here they are!

Silver crackle lace up gladiator sandals – Everything 5 Pounds

Everthing 5 Pounds silver gladiator sandals

Camo cork sole flatforms – Everything 5 Pounds

Everything 5 Pounds camo flatform sandals

Purple pom pom lace up sandals – eBay

Purple pom pom sandals

This year, for good measure, I’ve also bought some summer dresses, because why not!

Red flounce sundress – H&M

H&M red frill sundress

Snakeskin 2 layer sundress – H&M

H&M snakeskin jersey dress

Blue flounce dress – New Look

New Look blue frill flounce dress

Do you try and cling on to summer? Or are you firmly in the “bring on autumn” camp?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Friday Feeling [16] – school friends

With this week marking the start of a new term and “back to school” in the UK after the long six weeks holiday (RIP quiet roads and stress free commutes to work), I’m sure that there are kids – and parents – across the country who are worried about going back to school or starting a new school, the potential for bullying (such a problem, which is seemingly getting worse), or even just not making any friends.

Imagine then being a young immigrant from Syria, coming to the UK and starting school in Manchester; knowing no-one and not knowing what the attitude towards you will be in view of the negative press that refugees receive. Pretty stressful eh?

Praise then for 12 year old Jack, who saw new boy Rani sitting alone and invited him to join his group of friends. The boys bond over a love of sports and Jack helps Rani with his English skills proving that, despite their different upbringings and backgrounds, friendship can bridge gaps. Aw!

Jack and Rani Educating Greater Manchester

Watch Jack and Rani being interviewed on This Morning with Ruth and Eamonn.

The boys are also featured on new TV series Educating Greater Manchester, which follows teachers and students at a secondary school in Greater Manchester, aired Thursdays at 9pm on Channel 4.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

A day out in the Greek Mani Peninsula – part 1

Despite having been to Stoupa 4 times previously, I’ve never really explored any of the surrounding area (unless you count the 2km coastal path walk to the neighbouring village of Aghios Nikolaos). I’ve read many times that that the scenery is incredible, but I choose not to drive when I’m overseas (never done it) and the public transport is nigh on non existent (there are 4 buses a day which run on GMT – Greek Maybe Time, I kid you not!)

On this year’s trip, however, I decided to bite the bullet, hire a car, and get out and about.

I’m not going to lie, I was nervous. Not quite as nervous as the husband (who, until a few days before, had said he wouldn’t come in a car with me driving “on the wrong side of the road”). He’s not a great passenger in the UK, so on unfamiliar winding mountain roads (and I mean winding), with sheer cliff drops and crazy Greek drivers overtaking on bends, he was something of a nervous wreck!

First stop, about an hour’s drive from Stoupa, was the Caves of Diros.

I first went to the Caves of Diros with my Dad on my first visit to Stoupa many years ago. We went on an organised coach trip, which I always find quite restrictive because you have to stick to a set timetable, and there’s lots of people on the coach, and the bendy roads can feel quite sickly in a big vehicle. This time we went at our own speed, stopping on the way to take come photographs from the top of the mountain. The colour of the sea in this part of Greece is just incredible, it looks photoshopped, even to the naked eye.

After a winding descent we followed the signs to the caves, spotting some beautiful ceramic shops along the side of the road.

The journey through the caves is done on a small rowing boat carrying up to 7 people and the man in charge. It takes about half an hour and covers 2.5km. At times you really have to duck down so as not to hit your head on the rock formations above, and the boat can be a little wobbly in the water, which is crystal clear below. It’s hard to comprehend that you’re looking at millions of years of stalagmite and stalactite formations.

I tried to get some pics, which was difficult because of the lighting and the momentum of the boat, but you can get an idea of how impressive they are from the handful that turned out ok!

When you leave the boat you walk through another lengthy stretch of caves, before coming out into the bright sunshine and the aqua sea and bobbing boats of Diros Bay.

On leaving Diros, we headed from one side of the peninsula to the other to the seaside town of Gythio, which had been recommended to me as a pretty place to visit. Gythio is a harbour town with some cosmopolitan seaside restaurants and bars, and pretty coloured buildings. It was fairly quiet when we were there, during the heat of the day, but we had a little wander and some lunch. For me it had more of an Italianate feel than Greek, with the pastel buildings and the intricate balconies, but it was nice to sit right on the seafront and have some food and a refreshing drink.

By now it was early afternoon and time to start heading back towards Stoupa, with a stop at Areopoli planned on the way. More on that next time!

Have you been to mainland Greece? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x