Category: Life and Living

Friday Feeling [13] – your new confidence icon

We all have a crisis of confidence sometimes; especially in the age of social media where we’re bombarded with perfect pouts and perfect outfits and perfect people ALL. THE. TIME. And we all wonder sometimes whether our outfit might need a little bit more pizazz to make it more interesting, or if it needs toning down a little bit so it’s not quite so OTT.

Enter Baddie Winkle – an 88 year lover of clothes who doesn’t care if she’s overdressed or undressed. She’s everything I want to be when I’m 88 (hell, she’s everything I want to be at 39!) – bold, bright, and sassy AF.

Baddie Winkle

If you feel your insta feed would benefit from a bit of Baddie’s inimitable style, you can follow her here – along with her other 3.1 million fans!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Comedy Central Friends-fest at Bute Park in Cardiff

Who doesn’t like Friends? (this is a rhetorical question, but if you actually don’t then there’s probably no point reading on). Watching Friends is like putting on your comfiest clothes – you know what to expect and can just sink into it’s warm familiarity. Yes you know what’s coming, and yes you know the jokes, but could you BE any more content? (Chandler-ism!)

So many Friends sayings have worked their way into every day vocabulary (certainly mine!) and the fact that the show is on Comedy Central pretty much all the time means you’re only ever a flick of the channel away from those 6 people who you’ve never met, but just know you’d get on with brilliantly in real life (with the exception of Ross, obvs).

When Comedy Central announced “Friends-fest” was going on tour this year (following it’s initial launch in London in 2016) I was determined to go. The closest location to us was Cardiff (close being a figurative term here, as it’s still a 100+ mile drive) but I figured we could make a day of it and so I got tickets as part of the husband’s birthday present.

The website said that a visit to the site should take around 2.5 hours, including the set tour which you had to book a timeslot for.

The website had huge delusions of grandeur in terms of how you could spend the 2 hours that weren’t the set tour. We were done in 30 minutes, and that included a pit stop for a “MY SANDWICH” (remember the Ross episode?) which cost an eye watering £6.50 each.

Let me explain. The site was in a fenced off area of Bute Park, in Cardiff city centre. It wasn’t very big. It comprised of a few different areas / set recreations where you could queue to get your photograph taken, a big screen with lots of deckchairs where you could sit and watch back to back episodes of Friends, a shop, a bar and the set tour area.

Friendsfest big screen

There was a covered area where you could queue to recreate the opening sequence, complete with multi coloured umbrellas and the queue was probably 15 minutes long.

Friendsfest opening credit

The husband hates getting his pic taken and I’d look a bit of a wally sitting there on my own, so there was little point in that.

There was the Central Perk recreation in a separate tent, which was quite good. There are spots to pose outside the café, behind Gunther’s counter, on the famous sofa, and on Phoebe’s stool in the window with a guitar and there were staff dotted around to take photos on camera phones, which was good, but it was hard to get a good pic because there were lots and lots of people milling around so it felt a bit conveyor belt-ish.

There was a very poor almost cardboard cut out recreation of the front of the wedding chapel where Ross and Rachel got married, a very tenuous Lincoln High graduation ceremony background and some cheesy props for people to use (this area felt like they were desperately trying to add some value to the whole experience but failing miserably) and a NY taxi and an NYPD car.

Food and drinks wise there was Monica’s Moonshine diner (a food van with a really small America diner seating area in an open fronted tent), a food van that sold the afore mentioned sandwich…

Friendsfest Ross sandwich

…plus nachos and pulled pork sandwiches, snacks in the café attached to Central Perk and a small bar overlooking the big screen.

It all felt very thrown together and amateur.

The best bit was the set tour, which as I mentioned was a booked time slot. We were ushered into a pre-set area which had some original costumes and props from across the show – this was pretty interesting and I think could have been expanded on to give more value for money.

We were then directed round to the two main apartments featured in the show which were connected by the corridor as you see it on TV. This was quite surreal to look at, because it was like seeing the contents of your TV with your own eyes!

We were in Joey and Chandler’s apartment first.

Then the hallway.

Friendsfest the hallway

Then Monica’s apartment.

We were encouraged to get on set, sit on chairs and take photos, but there were so many people that again it felt cramped and it was difficult to get around everything without being in someone’s way. The good thing was that at the end of each set, the chaperone for our group ordered everyone off, so we were able to get some clear shots.

And then that was it! A 2.5 hour drive each way and £40 worth of petrol for a very sub standard hour. Oh, and did I mention the tickets cost £22.50 each????

Most of the experience panders to today’s selfie and “look, I was there” culture and felt very much like ticking a box for a photograph at every location rather than any in depth, behind the scenes, this is worth the money, I’ve found something new about one of my favourite shows content.

In case you’re wondering, and I haven’t made it clear, I wouldn’t recommend it. If tickets were a tenner and it came to your local town then maybe worth a look. But £22.50 is a hugely overpriced rip off and left me with a bitter taste (and it wasn’t coffee from Central Perk).

To quote my friend Ellen “When no-one told you Friends-fest was going to be this way” clap clap clap clap…

Are you a Friends fan? Do you have a favourite? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Friday Feeling [11] – puppy love

Have a whole dose of canine shaped cuteness for this week’s Friday Feeling! A google person was trekking around a remote island to record it for Google Maps (because there aren’t any roads for the Google car) and this little dog adorably followed him around and photobombed most of the footage!

Google maps dog visitor

The island, belonging to South Korea, is just 734 metres long and 482 wide and has only 2 residents. Presumably the dog isn’t one of them…

Read the full story and see more pics.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Peeling paper, plastering and planning permission

It’s all going on in our house at the moment. Remember a while back, when I giddily posted that we’d bought the place, but it needed work to make it the home we want? The work has started. We’re living in a mess. We keep saying “it’s only temporary” on repeat, and spend as much time in the garden as we can but there’s no doubt that we are very much having work done.

The man who lived there before us had been there since it was built, in the 90s, and I’d say he hadn’t changed the décor since then. So we inherited dated pastel wallpaper borders in some of the rooms, which we’ve been trying to remove ready for plastering. We also inherited 90s artex ceilings, which need to be plasterboarded over, hence the need to remove the borders first. We have furniture in rooms where it shouldn’t be, ladders on our stairs, and a kitchen full of buckets, plaster dust covered sheets, screws and stuff. It’s not exactly a pleasure to live there right now! There are only the 2 bedrooms left to do, but I need to break down huge, fugly wardrobes that were obviously built in situ and hence can’t be taken out in one piece in order for the plasterer to be able to do his job. So that means we have piles of clothes to add to the general upheaval!

House update

Oh, and the plasterer can’t come today because he’s at a funeral, and can’t come tomorrow because it’s an Irish funeral and he’ll be hungover! I admire his candour though!

On the plus side, we have weekend tickets for the Moseley Jazz, Funk & Soul festival this weekend, so we’ll be spending much of our time away from the building site and dancing to bands like Soul II Soul and Chaka Khan in the park. It’s been a couple of years since I was last at the festival, so it will be a welcome return!

In other house news (because I don’t seem to have much else going on in my life right now, it’s pretty all consuming) our builder has been in touch about the other work we’re having done, which is BIG STUFF. Garage conversion, new house front and an extension, gulp. That will hopefully be less messy, for us at least, because we can live upstairs while all that’s happening downstairs. I shall link back to this post and remind myself of my (probably misplaced) optimism when it’s happening! Just waiting on planning permission (please be kind and quick, Birmingham City Council).

The funny thing about all this, is that when we started house hunting last year my Mom asked us if we’d consider taking on a project. And we said NO WAY. We want to buy a house that needs NO WORK.

That ended well…

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Friday Feeling [10] – it’s all about you

We all know that Instagram can be, and mostly is, a self serving narcissistic platform for people to garner likes and approvable from those they may or may not know (I am no exception in this <shameless plug> you can follow me on instagram here).

So just how cute is this older gentleman who uses his instagram account to post pictures of his good lady wife throughout the years, talking about just how much he loves her?

Cute old couple instagram

Isn’t that just adorable?

Heart. Melting.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

The Naked Finger

My wedding ring is currently at the jewellers being fixed up. Constant wear for 8.5 years have left it with an unconventionally flat rear (!!) so I popped it in for some well deserved TLC.

It’s no surprise that I feel naked without it, and keep touching my finger and panicking that I’ve lost it somewhere.

Not only is it my favourite piece of jewellery for sentimental reasons, I absolutely love the design too. It’s unconventional, and the husband said at the time that it doesn’t even look like a wedding ring (I don’t know if he thought I was trying to maintain the appearance of a singleton?!) but it had my heart as soon as I saw it.

On our wedding day, in Mauritius, with our stunning wedding flowers.

Wedding ring

I don’t have an engagement ring, through choice, I never wanted to be engaged, just married (I sound like a desperado here, I know!) We were married less than 9 months after we got “engaged” (without being engaged) and I always wanted a statement wedding ring rather than a plain band and an engagement ring. I don’t think there’s any need to stick to traditions when it comes to weddings; it’s whatever works for the couple involved. Besides, I have a love of chunky jewellery, so an engagement ring that would have met my style would have cost a ridiculous amount!

Funny story – whilst we were shopping for our wedding rings in the jewellery quarter, the husband saw Emma Willis (who, I can confirm, is just as stunning in real life) and went all girly pink and weird. I mean, yeah, she’s hot, but we were BUYING OUR WEDDING RINGS!!!! I offered him a get out of jail free card to go and chat her up, but luckily he made the right decision…

Normal finger service will resume soon!

Thanks, as always, for reading x

5 things I learnt from living in our flat

We officially moved into our new place on Saturday – how exciting! We haven’t quite left the flat yet, there are still bits and pieces lingering around that we need to transfer over, but its no longer our main residence (I sound like the Queen!)

It’s been a super happy and fun 11 years in that little place, and I’ve loved every minute.

5 things I learnt from living in our flat

I’ve also learnt a few things too!

———–

You can fit a lot more stuff in a 2 bedroom flat than initially thought

As evidenced by the fact that we still haven’t 100% moved, and that we have boxes everywhere, and that I don’t remember our move 11 years ago being anywhere near this messy, it’s fair to say we’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. Neither of us are good at living a minimal lifestyle – me with clothes and shoes and the husband with music and guitars, so it was inevitable that we’re going to have to buy more storage for the new place!

I love one level living

The idea of living in a flat didn’t come naturally to me at first but within days (more likely minutes) I loved having everything on one level! Not having to go upstairs for the loo in the middle of a TV program, or go downstairs for a drink in the middle of the night – it just really worked! So much so, in fact, that when we started to earnestly talk about moving, I insisted I would only move to a bungalow! And now I have a whole 13 stairs – I’m just hoping they help me lose weight!!

How much I like trees and squirrels

The flat was built in the 1960s, and most of the trees on the estate are from that era, so you can imagine their height and magnitude after growing for 50 years! The surrounding is so very green and lush, with thick trunks and dense leaves perfect for squirrels to climb, jump about and hide in. I love to sit watching them playing or chasing each other. We were worried that the move would mean giving up all the greenery as we live in an urban location, but we’ve been incredibly lucky to find a place that, if possible, is even more green and quiet than what we’ve left behind. Standing in the garden, all you can here is leaves rustling and birdsong, it’s beautiful. And I spotted a cheeky squirrel at the weekend too.

How much I dislike ceramic hobs!

I bought our kitchen hob for appearance rather than functionality and it drives me mad! It’s so unresponsive when you change the temperature, and it’s a sod to keep clean too. Definitely not repeating that when we get our new kitchen!

Fairy lights aren’t just for Christmas

Ah, tiny twinkly lights, how I love thee! From multi-coloured pretties on the balcony, to star shaped ones in the lounge and a Moroccan inspired set in the dining area, I think everything is improved with the soft subtle glow of fairy lights. I’ll be having lots of them in the new place, and even more in the garden!

———–

With all those lessons learnt and experiences…experienced, it feels nice to be starting in a new place with the basics all ticked but the rest as a blank canvas for us to make our own mark. It’s going to be a long, slow and expensive process, but it’s going to be fab!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Thinking of Manchester

Like everyone waking up in the UK today, and many people across the world, I’m deeply shocked and saddened by the bomb blast which has killed 22 people so far. Those poor, poor babies, out having fun and enjoying what should have been an amazing night in their young lives. Parents, taking their kids to concerts to keep them safe. Fans, all at the venue for the same purpose – to enjoy the music and performance of someone they admire.

It’s unthinkable.Thoughts with Manchester

It’s too early to jump to conclusions and as yet (as far as I know) no terrorist group has come forward to claim responsibility, so maybe it is just one lone nutter with a grudge to bear. In a way that would be easier to stomach than thinking terrorism has infiltrated the heart of our society and killed innocent people.

Although, if you’ve lost a loved one in such horrible circumstances, the origin of the attack and attacked is probably neither hear nor there.

I’ve been buoyed by acts of kindness I’ve read about in the wake of the attack; like taxi drivers turning off their meters and driving people wherever they needed to go, hotels offering free rooms to people stranded, kids who have been separated from family or friends being taken to safety and the general Manchester population opening up their doors and their homes to provide cups of tea, beds and a safe haven for those affected.

These acts of kindness shouldn’t be necessary, because in an ideal world this would never have happened. But it’s good to know that the majority of the human race not only deplores such behaviour from cowardly bombers, but openly and actively pull together to make the aftermath as easy as possible for everyone to deal with.

Sad times.

Thanks, as always, for reading. xx

Feelgood Friday [7] – Rufus the rescue dog

I haven’t seen anything good in the press to share with you this week – it all seems to be doom and gloom and misery and politics – so here’s a Feelgood Friday story from my personal life.

This is Rufus. He’s a scruffy little terrier with a sad background.

He was abandoned by his previous family and ended up in a rescue home. No-one knows for sure how he was treated by his old family, but based on how subdued and quiet he was in the home there’s a good chance he wasn’t showered with the love a little dog deserves.

Then along came my Mom, who fell in love with him, and took him to his new home, where he lives happily to this day.

Rufus used to be called Bradley. Who calls a dog Bradley? And when he first came to his new home, at my Mom’s, it was like he had no personality. He used to lie under the coffee table and not make a sound. You could fuss and cuddle him and he’d just sit there, with no reaction. It was heartbreaking. When my Mom had to take him back to the rescue home for his injections he cried, as though he recognised where he was going and thought he was going to be left again.

Now he’s a happy little chap who loves to play with his “big brother” Oscar the boxer dog, loves to lie in the sunshine, and loves to play with plastic bottles!

Rufus sunbathing

I bribed him with crisps for these Christmas pics!

He loved having a Mohican, little hipster!

Rufus mohican

He needs no persuading to pose in glasses – this is the “chews” at 10!

Rufus reading glasses

And he loves the doggy spa in the sunny garden!

Rufus doggy spa

Have you ever taken in a rescue dog?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Feelgood Friday [6] – First Dates on Channel 4

Did anyone see First Dates this week? (for anyone who’s not familiar with it, or not in the UK, it’s a dating program where single people are matched up and get to go on a dinner date in the First Dates restaurant. Everything is filmed and some couples are featured more heavily than others in each episode. At the end the two people are put together in a room and asked how they thought the date went, and if they’d like to see each other again. Sometimes the outcome can be rather awkward, as you can imagine!)

This week’s episode featured the fabulous Jeni and Eric, both in their 80s, both widowed after marriages spanning 50+ years and both wanting to meet someone to share things with.

I had a vested interest in this episode as I know Jeni. I first met her when our friends renewed their marriage vows last year (she’s the “mother of the bride”), and I sat next to her at some other friends’ amazing wedding in October. Jeni is bright, fun, vivacious and sharp. She’s also incredibly creative (she, along with her daughter, were responsible for creating many of the beautiful skull and spooky decorations and dressing the wedding venue, and an amazing job they did).

I’ve said it before, but I love love! And I don’t think age or loss should be a barrier to finding love. Of course there are people who lose their partner and have no intention or inclination to ever meet another person, and that’s ok too, but happiness and companionship is as important in later life as it is when we’re younger. It was quite clear from the episode that Jeni and Eric both have an incredible zest for life and a space in their hearts where their beloved partner used to be. That doesn’t mean they’re replacing them or forgetting them, just that the heart has a huge capacity to heal and feel.

They had a lovely, chatty dinner date and decided that yes, they’d like to see each other again.

Just look how cute they are together!

First Dates Jeni and Eric

You can still catch the episode on Channel 4 on Demand

Thanks, as always, for reading! x