Category: Life and Living

Friday Feeling [34] – making a (small) difference

Before I had my (unplanned) hiatus from blogging I wrote a post about wearing a bikini (you can read it here).

I think, as women, many of us have insecurities about our bodies and how they look, which are mainly brought on by what we see in the media and the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves as a result.

So imagine how chuffed I was when one of my followers – Tamsyn from blog Leather and Glitter – tagged me in her instagram honeymoon photos to tell me she’d worn a bikini on her honeymoon BECAUSE OF MY BLOG POST!!!

Wore a bikini

You can probably imagine how amazing that made me feel. It’s such lovely feedback and I really appreciate Tamsyn letting me know, so I could have all the warm and fuzzies.

If you want to see Tamsyn’s honeymoon photos you can check her out on Instagram here (there are no bikini shots though!) and it’s also worth pointing out that she made her own wedding dress, with her own fair hands, which you can also see on Instagram and read more about on her blog.

Have you ever had blog feedback that’s given you that Friday Feeling?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

A life update – back to where it all began

Did anyone notice I haven’t posted for a while? <<awkward silence!>>

I started this blog almost three and a half years ago, because I’d been made redundant.

Guess what? I’ve just been made redundant again! Well, I say just, I found out it was going to happen 2 weeks ago today, then I was off for a long weekend, then worked a day and a half before getting put on garden leave (where you don’t have to work but still get paid, in case you’re not familiar with the term).

It was pretty unexpected but not overly surprising, if that makes sense? I’m certainly not angry or bitter with my ex employers because small businesses have to do what’s right for them, and where would being cross get me anyway? I’d still be in the same unemployed position, but with a headache and heart palpitations and sore hands from slamming my fist into walls shouting “dammit”!

So, what have I been up to then? <<whispers>> I probably shouldn’t say this…but…

I’ve been having quite a jolly time! As I mentioned I was off for a long weekend immediately after I was given THE NEWS as we were going to the Rock and Blues festival in Derbyshire. At first it seemed rotten timing (“I’m unemployed! I can’t go spending money on drinking booze in a field watching bands I love”) but then it seemed good timing (“I’m unemployed! Sitting at home moping about it isn’t going to change anything, and I REALLY want to be in a field watching bands I love!”) So that was a whole heap of fun, and you’ll be glad to know I didn’t hold back on spending money on booze, including bakewell cherry gin which, as a none gin drinker, went down extremely well.

Since then, last week, I’ve had lunch with my Mom and brother for his birthday; sorted out the garage to make space for our new boxing bag (more on that new fad hobby another time); this week I talked the husband into taking a day off work (legitimately, obvs) so we could have lunch and drinks and hang out on Monday; tried (and failed) to fight off a HIDEOUS hangover on Tuesday (the trouble with not having a job to keep me in check is that I don’t have a cut off point so drank more and later than I usually would have done).

Oh, and then I just nipped to Scotland yesterday, as you do. The husband had a site visit to do in East Kilbride and it’s a bloody long drive from Birmingham to South Scotland on your own, so being the selfless hero I am, I offered to co-pilot. I perused Primark while he did his thing then we drove back down to a lovely little town called Moffat where we had lunch, and then dinner, and drinks (I’m painting a bad picture of myself here, I know) and a lush overnight stay in a lovely hotel with the BEST duvet I have EVER slept under IN MY LIFE (I found out where they bought it from and I’m buying one, it was THAT GOOD), before coming home via Manchester-ish way where he did another 15 minute site visit and I managed to buy some earrings within that 15 minutes (pro-shopper).

So, all in all I’ve been a busy little bee and <<whispers again>> probably not as pro-active as I should have been in job hunting BUT it’s a been very traumatic and stressful time (not strictly true) and the sun has had his hat on again so I think I was entitled to a few days “me” time before I start the job search in earnest (actually in Birmingham and the surrounding areas, but you know what I mean).

Oh, and it’s not like I haven’t applied for any jobs (I have), or been looking (I have), just in case I come across as a privileged little madam. So don’t judge me yeah, because I’m unemployed and might have a cry.

What have you guys been up to? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

The strangest things can make you feel sad

The other day I was hanging some wet washing up to dry and I had an enormous wave of grief and sadness wash over me, because of a pair of pyjamas. They’re leopard print and they have pockets and they were one of my Christmas gifts the last Christmas before my Dad died. I had a flash back to putting them on, as soon as I opened them, over my clothes. I put on pretty much all the other clothes Dad and his wife bought me as well, including a pair of leopard print tights on my head. My Dad was laughing, his eyes crinkling up until you couldn’t see them anymore, and telling me I was a nutter. We all knew that Christmas was going to be his last, even though we didn’t say it. He knew it too – he really went overboard and spoilt us all.

I read an article recently that really resonated with me. You can read it here. It talks about life carrying on, and changing in ways that mean a person you’ve lost wouldn’t recognise things anymore. When we moved house I got really upset that my Dad wouldn’t know where we lived anymore, if in some way he could ever come back (I’m actually welling up typing this, the thought still gets me). When I changed my car it occurred to me that he wouldn’t know it was me if he saw me driving down the street. I still have his phone number in my mobile, and cant being myself to delete it, just in case he managed to get in touch. All daft thoughts, I know. (Also, can you imagine how freaked out I’d be if my phone rang and “Dad” popped up?!)

I can’t imagine how that grief must be magnified if you lose a partner.

We went to Dubrovnik last week, me and the husband and Dad’s wife. And we talked about Dad, as we often do. We knew he’d be happy that the 3 of us are so close and that Julie (Dad’s wife) travels with us. But there’s that ever present reminder that the 3 of us are together because Dad isn’t here anymore.

Grief can hit you at any time, unexpectedly, it can take the shine off your day; zap your mood from hero to zero in an instant.

But it can also bring back happy memories, reminding you to think of the good times.

Almost 2 years on and I’m still learning that, actually, grief is a law unto itself. It doesn’t go away. It just changes over time.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Grief and guilt

I was 13 when my Nan – my Mom’s Mom – died. I spent a lot of time with her growing up, with all my grandparents actually. She looked after me when I was poorly and my Mom was at work, or during summer holidays, or just because. She had an infectious laugh. She used to let me play hairdressers with her grey curly permed hair and made me cheese sandwiches with sweet pickled onions. In summertime she would sit in a deckchair in the garden while I made up songs and dances with an upturned mop. We’d go for afternoon walks where she’d nose in other people’s houses as we passed. She always had a tin of broken biscuits in the cupboard. She was ace.

Inevitably though, when I think of my Nan, I always come back to a similar memory which makes me feel sick with shame even now, 27 years on. My grandad used to homebrew beer and lager. He had a set up at home with all the kit. And one day me and Nan went to the local town and she had to buy him a new brewing container, like a big plastic bin. On the walk home (Nan didn’t drive) I was carrying this big plastic bin, in a black bin liner, and it was bashing against my legs and it meant I couldn’t walk on the wall like I always did when we came back from town. So I was grumbling and whinging and Nan took it off me and struggled herself with the other bags as well.

If my Nan was around now, or probably even at the time, she probably wouldn’t have even remembered that day. She certainly wouldn’t have held any grudge and would tell me not to be silly. I was just a kid after all, probably about 10 or 11 when it happened.

But it weighs heavily on my mind, and I can’t help it.

I have a different type of guilt when I think of my Dad. I’m sure I did lots of shitty thoughtless things to him when I was a kid, but there’s nothing huge that springs to mind. There was the time, after he and Mom had divorced, that I was supposed to go out to lunch with him (it was his birthday or maybe Fathers Day) but I’d been out clubbing all night and fell into such a deep sleep that I missed my alarm and all his calls. I do feel bad about that, but in later years we talked and even laughed about it. That’s one of the “good” things (if you can call it that) about him being terminally ill and knowing that time was limited. We got the chance to say all the things we wanted to say. I apologised for things like the afore mentioned deep sleep incident. I brought up anything that had upset me or played on my mind but I’d squirrelled away, because that’s what people do, and he was able to explain situations and put me at ease. I can’t imagine losing someone suddenly and having unfinished business or unanswered questions.

Me and Dad

The guilt I have around losing my Dad is mainly connected to what I’ve gained as a result of his death. He was a very switched on and organised man who was saving towards his future retirement, which he was supposed to enjoy with his wife. And obviously his diagnosis stole that from him; from both of them. So I was in the position of losing my Dad at what I think to be a young age, certainly prematurely to what I ever feared but also being left some money. Money that I didn’t need, didn’t want and certainly didn’t want to inherit in such fucking tragic circumstances. Money that, his wife told me, he wanted me to have for my future in the absence of him having a future. The only thing he asked of me, before he died, was not waste it. I know he meant spend it on shoes!

There’s a huge amount of responsibility that comes with inheriting money as a result of such a life changing loss. The thought of using it towards enjoyment when it existed purely because my Dad had died was unthinkable to me. But having money sitting there doing nothing isn’t what my Dad would have wanted either. He wanted me to enjoy it and benefit from it. So we’ve used some of it towards our home. We’ve been able to stay in our chosen area and buy a property with the intention of having building work and renovations done to make it into a perfect home for us. We couldn’t have done that otherwise (well we could, but we’d be living on dust and in a building site while we saved up enough money to do the work we needed). My Dad’s gift has given us a home and garden that we love with all our heart (so much so that we don’t go out anywhere near as much as we used to!) It has given us some financial security and an investment in our future, because the work we’ve had done on our house will increase the value as the years progress.

But how can I be so happy with something that has come at such a huge personal cost? The dichotomy between loving it, and hating the situation that made it possible. Knowing that the person in my life who would have been THE MOST EXCITED for us will never see it. He’d have been involved every step of the way; wanting photos, listening to our builder woes, telling us to give people a kick up the ass. He’d have walked in and done his amazed face where his eyes opened really wide and he said “WOW. Just WOW”. He’d have walked backwards and forwards and around and said things like “I tell you what…” and not finish the sentence because he’d spotted something else to look at. He’d have opened and closed and opened our bifold doors and said something like “these are a bit smart”. He’d have listened while I told him about all the different birds that come to our bird table and how my hydrangea is growing back after a cold winter. His eyes would have crinkled up at the sides like they did when he was happy and he’d have hugged me really tight.

And all of that would have happened because of the money he gave us, but can’t happen because the money he gave us is because he died.

It’s a headfuck.

I feel so lucky to have a wonderful home, but so unlucky to have been afforded it in the way it’s happened. All I can be is thankful and grateful to him. To do him proud. To have invested the money wisely in property, and not in my wardrobe! To be happy and settled. To share it with family. To make it a welcoming and lovely place to be. A place he would have approved of. To try not to feel guilty, because what good does that do? Gratitude is much more useful than guilt.

Somehow though, just like the feeling I have when I think about my Nan, it’s something I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to shake off.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

5 things I’m loving right now

You know when there are simple things in life that bring a smile to your face? These are my current ones!

James Bay – Pink Lemonade

Considering I thought most of the single releases from his previous album wee a load of melancholy tosh, I can’t get enough of this song. Is it recorded in a different key maybe? There’s something about it. Love.

Burgers and outdoor eating

BurgerA couple of years back we bought an electric “barbecue” because the gestapo management company thought we’d burn our apartment building down if we used fire. When we moved into our house last year we expected to retire it, but it’s actually been a continuing revelation for outdoor eating after work when it’s just the two of us and a full on barbecue with coals and stuff is too much like hard work. The husband has it down to a T, and cooks THE most incredible burgers on there. Not even blowing smoke up his ass because he reads this, they’re the best burgers I’ve ever had, ever. Tasty, juicy, moist, yum! Loaded onto a brioche bun and topped with pickles, cheese slices and relish, I seem unable to stop at just one.

Frasier
FrasierI always thought that Frasier would be a pompous, up it’s own ass, not particularly funny comedy show, and never had any interest in watching it. Until the husband, buoyed by watching a few episodes out of sync on Saturday morning TV, bought the box set with a view to starting from the very beginning. What can I say, apart from “I was wrong”. Yup, hold my hand up, it’s nothing like I feared. It’s gentle, clever, dry and very very witty. Niles is my absolute favourite. I love nothing more than snuggling down for a 3 or 4 episode binge and some guaranteed lols.

Sunshine and being in the garden

Plants in my gardenThis needs no explanation. If you follow me on instagram you’ll have noticed I’m a weather obsessive. The sun makes everything better. Waking up, getting out of bed, leaving the house. Even being at work is more tolerable knowing there’s sunshine just outside the door. After a loooooong winter, we seem to have had better than average weather for the past month and I am living for it. Combined with that, my garden is just everything to me. I’d rather spend money on plants than shoes (I said that jokingly a few weeks ago, then realised that it’s completely true and I’m not even bothered!) and potting flowers and waiting for them to bloom is such a joy. The patio resembles a garden centre! We’re having a new lawn laid today and I’m ridiculously excited (sad, I know!) and I’m sure I’ll be sharing pics in the weeks to come.

Royal Wedding

Royal WeddingI wasn’t overly into Harry and Meghan’s wedding in the lead up but ever since I watched the coverage on TV I can’t get enough of it! Pictures, articles, opinions – I want it all. And just how beautiful are the official photos released yesterday? Harry’s smile – could he be any happier? I think it’s a modern day love story; not only about Meghan getting her Prince, but about H getting his happy ending too (no sniggering at the back, rude readers).

What’s dinging your dong right now? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Friday Feeling [32] – who you gonna call? Gay Bar!

We’d all like to think that we’d instinctively know what to say or do if a family member shared something important with us, but it’s not always the case. Sometimes we might need advice from a third party.

It’s not very often, though, that the third party would be a gay bar!

This story is pretty heartwarming – a bartender at a mostly gay bar in Mississippi took a call from a woman who’s son had just come out to her, and she didn’t want to say the wrong thing, so she called the bar for some advice.

Altogether now…aw!

Maybe not the most conventional approach, but thoughtful nonetheless.

Good on that Mom!

Read the full story here.

Thanks, as always, for reading!

Friday Feeling [30] – 106th birthday celebrations

What’s the best way to celebrate turning 106? If you’re Jack Reynolds, you go on a 60 metre high, 400 metre long zipwire; casually gaining another Guinness World Record on the way.

I say another, because Jack is no stranger to marking his birthday with a new World Record. Last year, at 105, he became the oldest person to ride a rollercoaster; and the year before that, at 104, he was the oldest person to get a tattoo.

He even participated in the ice bucket challenge when he was 102, wearing just a pair of Union Jack pants!

Daredevil Jack is doing more in his 100s than a lot of people do in a lifetime; how amazing is that! Plus, he’s raising money for charity along the way.

Just look at his face!

106 year old Jack Reynolds

Read the full story here.

Thanks, as always for reading! x

Friday Feeling [29] – when you think you’re having a bad day, read this!

This is one of the funniest stories I’ve read in a long long time – I defy you not to laugh out loud at it!

17 years ago a man brought some pepperoni to some of his naval buddies in British Colombia, and set it on his hotel room windowsill to refrigerate until he saw them later that day.

In the interim, while he was out for a walk, the pepperoni attracted the attention of some seagulls who decided to have a tasty snack at his expense, and take over his room in the process.

Seagulls

What ensues is rib ticklingly hilarious in a way that me summarising could not do justice to.

Have a read here, and be forever grateful your day hasn’t ended in a 17 year hotel ban!

Hope your Friday is going well!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Coming out of my cocoon

I’ve noticed that I tend to neglect myself in January and February. And this year it spilled right over into March too! Not in a “woe is me” kind of way. Just in a “can’t be arsed” kind of way. Know what I mean? Pyjamas become uniform (if I’m not wearing them by 6.30pm on a week night something’s horribly wrong), lack of socialising leads to longer than is acceptable eyebrows and greasier than acceptable roots, and I generally just want to hide away and wait for Spring when I start to choose to feel human and bothered again.

It doesn’t help that last year was so crazy busy with moving house, and our builders were on site right up until 3 days before Christmas, so now we’re finally settled in to our new lovely extended open plan downstairs we just don’t want to leave. In fact I’ve joked in recent months that I’ve developed weekend agoraphobia (not that agoraphobia is a joke, before anyone gets the wrong idea, but my reticence to leave the house from Friday night to Monday morning has become quite the source of amusement for my work colleagues).

And if I’m not leaving the house, I’m often not leaving my PJs!

With lighter nights, milder temperatures and spring flowers all making an appearance I start to feel like I should be making an effort too. Bits of colour appear in my wardrobe and layers become singular. Toenails will be painted in anticipation of sandals. I’ll start to think about fake tan (I’m so unattractively pasty right now). It somehow all feels more worth it when winter is over.

People joke about hibernating in winter, but I would genuinely like to! It just doesn’t suit me – physically or mentally. Spring and Summer is when I thrive and am at my best.

It’s just a shame that Spring feels so reticent to make itself known this year. We keep getting the occasional glimpse, but it just doesn’t last (although I did spend a lovely couple of hours in my garden potting flowers yesterday)

Anyone else feel this way? Or am I the only seasonally slovenly sloth around here!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Male suicide

Last night when I got home, I found out that a friend’s brother had taken his own life on Tuesday.

This morning, a different friend saw the horrifying sight of a man hanging from a motorway bridge as he drove to work.

Only last week, 84 sculptures were revealed on top of the ITV building in London, to highlight the number of men who take their own life every week in the UK. This is part of Project84 – a campaign run by CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably).

Project 84 male suicide sculptures

Male suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK, and reports indicate this is due to social rather than biological reasons. Please make sure all the men in your life – family, friends, work colleagues – know there are people available to talk to, and that sharing their problems does not make them less masculine or reflect on their manliness in anyway.

If you are experiencing problems and suicidal thoughts; whether you’re male or female, you can contact professionals including The Samaritans.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x