A great bank holiday Monday

Here’s what I got up to.

We drove to Clent Hills for some sunshine and fresh air and beautiful views.

Clent

BUT…

The rest of Birmingham had the same idea and it was manic. No parking spaces and an impatient husband conspired against us.

So we came home and went out locally.

We watched great blues and jazz music c/o Moseley’s best pub on a sunny day, The Prince of Wales.

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Hannah Johnson and The Broken Hearts are a great Country band with a sweet female vocalist, a cool steel guitarist, an amazing lead guitarist and a double bassist. Double bass is my favourite instrument.

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So cool.

So we drank some cocktails (an Old Fashioned for him and a hmm.a.hmm.aaaa.hmm for me…I can’t remember the name, but it contained gin and elderflower).

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And then went for Moroccan food, starting with mussels with chilli which, I am so hooked on, I can’t have anything else when I eat here.

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Much love for Bank Holiday!

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Fast and Furious 7 at the new Everyman cinema in Birmingham

I don’t go to the cinema very often. It’s expensive, uncomfortable, and not a great experience for me. I get annoyed by people eating, talking, or laughing at the wrong moments. I don’t deal well with having to be quiet myself, or the fact that I can’t ask what’s going on or press pause if I need to go to the loo  I’m not much of a film person – I never think I have time to sit and dedicate wholly to watching a movie. I’m also very judgemental in terms of what I will and won’t watch. And as a result I’m sure I miss out on some awesome stuff. In fact when I do sit and watch a film, even something that I’m very against, I generally tend to really enjoy it. Yet the same pattern repeats itself.

Go figure.

The Fast and Furious franchise is a perfect case in point. My husband loves them. I turned my nose up – fast cars and girls, why would I be interested? Under duress I watched one, just to shut him up. And I was hooked! The energy, the soundtrack, the characters. Of course Paul Walker was very easy on the eye, but that wasn’t the only thing. I got immediately drawn into the story, and immediately wanted to watch all of them. I even love Tokyo Drift (number 3).

When Paul Walker died there was obviously a massive outpouring of shock and grief, as well as a question over the future of F&F7, which was already being filmed. When it was confirmed that the film would be completed and released, we said we would definitely go to the cinema to see it.

Handily, the release date coincided with the opening of a new cinema in Birmingham – Everyman. There are only a handful of them in the UK at the moment, but I believe there are plans to open many more. The cinema is in the Mailbox, which is currently undergoing a multi million pound redevelopment, and sits in a plot previously occupied by an indian restaurant (and maybe something else more recently?)

So, what was the verdict? A big thumbs up to both the cinema and the film. The cinema is very nicely done. Just 3 screens, a traditional bar, fresh flowers, lots of wood and old cinema posters.

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About as far from a multiplex as it’s possible to be (and all the better for it). We were in screen 3, down some stairs past this little fella!

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There’s another bar at the bottom where you can order food and drinks to be delivered to your seats. And the seats – well, they’re the star of the show. Big comfy sofas for two people, in purples and reds, with snuggly velour cushions. Wooden footrests and drinks rests give a real quality feel. And, when the film started, the sound was amazing and the darkness was very dark. Perfect film watching conditions.

The film was fab. Lots of special effects, a huge budget as you’d expect for a Hollywood blockbuster, all of the favourite characters and a great appearance by Jason Statham. Knowing that Paul Walker had passed away prior to the end of filming, and that the film makers used Paul’s brothers as stand ins on scenes that were yet to be completed, there was a worry that continuity might suffer as a result, but it was flawless. And the ending (no spoilers) was perfect. Just right. And yes I cried.

Paul Walker

I read this article yesterday, which gives a small insight into how the film was completed without Paul. It must have been tough for the rest of the cast.

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Replacing old favourites

I hate in when something you love – a wardrobe staple – needs to go to the big fashion graveyard in the sky. It makes me genuinely sad. In some cases you just need to accept it and move on. In other cases you absolutely MUST find a replacement.

This is the situation with my go to bag. Black, imitation suede, adjustable plaited shoulder strap, zip fastening, fringed. The perfect bag for a day out shopping, going to the pub, going to a gig, going to the park. Seriously, I love this bag. Not too dressy, not too casual – I can’t live without it! And so when one of the pieces of the plaited handle came loose (after about 18 months of using at least once or twice a week) it was a no-brainer to replace it. Luckily enough it was easy to do, because there are oodles of them on ebay (which is where I first bought one from).

Here’s the bag.

Fringed bag

And it’s available mega cheap, starting at just £6.98 with free delivery from some Far Eastern sellers (I’ve had to buy one from a UK seller and pay postage because I CANNOT wait for postage from China)

It’s also available in other colours

Tan bag Purple bag

Grey bag Brown bag

I’ve had the grey previously, but obviously didn’t have the same love for it as I didn’t replace it. I don’t think imitation suede translates as well in lighter colours, it looks cheap (which we all know, that even though we want a bargain, we don’t want it to look like a bargain).

Having said that, I’m rather tempted by the brown, looking at that picture.

But what about when things aren’t so easy to replace?

I have a black slouchy shoulder bag that I bought from H&M a looong time ago. Again it’s the type of bag everyone should have – perfect for chucking in loads of stuff, still looks good when it’s empty due to the shape. I use it for gigs when I invariably end up with my coat and my husband’s coat, and it was the perfect festival bag last year when we went to Download. Alas, that was it’s undoing as, after many years of use, the pleather started to peel off. Doom.

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And can I find a replacement? No! I’ve tried all the usual suspects and the handles are too short, or the hardware is gold (massive bug bear of mine) or the bag itself is too small. You’d never imagine it to be so difficult.

These are the closest I’ve found.

£18 from Tesco F&F (strap looks too narrow though, it would probably be uncomfortable with a lot of weight in )

Tesco bag

H&M – £12.99 (this one’s described as a back pack, but wondering if the straps would work another way, same issue with them being narrow though)

H&M bag £12.99

And this is probably favourite – £19.99 from H&M

H&M bag £19.99

Off tangent, I also like it in the beige.

H&M beige £19.99

Ebay have the perfect shape, but being fabric this wouldn’t work at an outdoor festival if it rained, and it also doesn’t have a zip.

Fabric bag

Wider this time, with adjustable shoulder strap,  also from ebay, at a bargain £8.79 plus £3.25 postage from China

Ebay black bag £8.79 plus postage

And getting easily distracted again, by the green (same price)

Green ebay bag

Good size and price (£7.68) but the strap is too short

Ebay bag

We may have a winner with this one (£8.89 plus delivery)

Ebay winner

And I also like this one, but its probably a smidge too small, looking at the dimensions.(fussy, moi?)

Ebay 2

The alternative is to carry less stuff around, I suppose! Or, actually go real life shopping, which I really don’t do very often these days…

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H&M…I love you…!

For these (which are slightly more silver in real life)

Sequin trousers - £15 20150401_082607

Which I have absolutely no occasion for but I have lusted over some sequin trousers since seeing this image on Pinterest.

Sequin pinterest

I love them so much I’ll wear them at home watching TV if I have to! But in reality they’ll look great with my longline racer back leather look top, or with a black cami and heels, or with a white vest and blazer (velvet would be great, but not particularly seasonal right now).

And for these:

Biker trousers - £15 Biker detail

To replace my current pleather jeans which were always snug and a bit too low rise and have languished in my wardrobe for over a year but I’ve never found any better ones since. Love the quilted biker detailing on the thighs.

And also for this:

H&M fringed skirt

Which is part of the Coachella range and has already sold out online (not surprisingly for just £7.99) and will look equally as good with ankle boots as it will with summer sandals.

And these:

White jeans

For being the only pair of white jeans I’ve ever tried (and I try every year, believe me) that don’t show pants through, don’t sit dangerously close to porno territory on the “waist” line and don’t look like Liz Hurley would wear them (she’s too posh for torn stuff). The fact that they’re described as “high” on the website makes you think they’d come up under your armpit, but to me these are just normal (it must be an age thing), and hopefully means I can wear them with a waistcoat and lots of chains without displaying muffin top.

At a combined cost of £52.98 for all 4 items (sequin trousers – £15, pleather trousers – £15, skirt – £7.99 and jeans – £14.99) I have done my bargain hunting self proud, as well as bagged some really cool stuff.

Of course the sizing is still rubbish, but I can forgive them based on these 4 items alone.

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Style evolution

Particularly my own.

Most people’s looks will change as they get older; not purely physical appearance, but how they choose to dress.

Unless you’re Kate Moss who has been oozing cool since forever.

Kate Moss 2 Kate Moss 3 Kate Moss

My style has changed considerably over the years. Contributing factors include age, social life, peer group, music, lifestyle. Body shape! I certainly couldn’t go out with mid section showing now like I did when I was 18. I used to be quite a girly girl, into being glam. Slinky dresses that showed off plenty of leg, high heels, done hair. That was a time and place thing – I was into dance music and dance clubs and a lot of it was about being seen. Urgh. How cheesy.

That said, I’ve never been overly high maintenance. I don’t have the patience for fake tan, the steady hand for false eyelashes or the right type of lips for a huge pout.

There was something quite sad about the time I realised I didn’t have much call for glam going out clothes anymore. That my social life had changed and evolved.  Seeing a lovely dress on sale but concluding that there was no point in buying it as it just didn’t fit my lifestyle. But it also came with a transition into a different musical era, when I started going to live gigs and seeing rock bands. That’s getting glam in a different kind of way.

And then there’s work clothes. When I started my first job I used to wear cute fitted jackets and A-line mini skirts from Topshop and Miss Selfridge. Later it would be jumpers and pencil skirts. Always with heels. Most recently I’ve been wearing short sleeved loose shift dresses, jersey midi skirts and high ankle boots. Less tailored and more me, but still with a hint of corporate. I was known in the office for my shoes, which changed height/colour/style daily. My new job will be strange as the dress code is very laid back, so my new blue suede platform peeptoe heels – which I bought for summer office wear – will look way OTT.

Blue heels

And while I believe in dressing for yourself not other people, I don’t want to be singled out as the new girl who fancies herself when the rest of the office are in jeans and t-shirts. Its a quandary.

Personally, for me, I find it hard to be 100% true to one style all the time. I love cool rock chick styling, and obviously my tattoos portray that image, then I’ll see a bronzed surfer chick and that catches my eye, or a retro 60s look and I want to try that. Style chameleon.

Here are some of my current favourite looks.

For now:

Style 1 Style 9 Style 10 Style 11

 

For spring:

Style 3 Style 4 Style 6

Spring 1Spring 2 Spring 4

For summer:

Summer 2 Summer 3 Style 7

Summer Spring 3

And just because (so freaking cool!)

Style 8

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Tonsurephobia – fear of haircuts

Not quite the right terminology for my own circumstances. Mine is a fear of hairdressers. Seriously, I would rather go to the dentist and get work done than go to a hairdresser. One of my close friends is a mobile hairdresser and has offered to come to my home, be really patient, do exactly what I say. But no. No way!

The reasoning for this? I’ve had so many disappointments over the years.When I was 11, I had really long thick hair. But I wanted it curly. So I went on and on and on about it until my Mom gave in and I was allowed to get a perm. Because of the thick weightiness of my hair, the perm didn’t take properly so the hairdresser suggested we come back to the salon to have some layers cut in. And that was the start of the problem.

I never truly loved it after that, although I continued to get it permed and layered until I was 16. Then there was the time I got highlights that ended up a horrible yellow colour. And, most recently, when I asked for a sweeping side fringe and came out looking like a librarian. I cried all the way home.

The truth is, no-one knows my hair better than me. I know that cutting it when it’s wet is a mistake because of how it will spring up once dry. I know I have a cow-lick on the right hand side. And so now I cut it myself.

We’re not talking just a trim. Most recently I went from bra strap length to above shoulder in just three haircuts. I have gone from no fringe to full fringe. I have put layers through the length and the front. I’ve coloured it, stripped it and recoloured it. So I’m not afraid of haircuts. I like experimenting with my hair, I like it to look like I have a style. I don’t just leave it to grow and grow. I just take on the role of my own personal hairdresser.

The results? Well no-one has ever laughed at it or told me I should wear a hat. My husband always checks it over when I’m done and expresses incredularity that it’s straight and level. Even my hairdresser friend looked over my most recent short cut and couldn’t see any major flaws.

I started off last October going to just below shoulder length. My inspiration was Claudia Winkelman, but without the fringe.

Claudia

Then I decided I would do a full Claudia, and go for a fringe. Mistake! Every time I cut a fringe I like it for about 3 days, before deciding that it’s too much like hard work (my fringe hair is too springy and wavy to behave how a fringe should). Meanwhile I went slightly shorter in the length.

And my fringe has now grown into face framing layers, and I have gone a bit shorter again in length. And I like it. I really do. BUT, I can’t help wonder whether I should grow it again? Everyone seems to be getting their long hair cut (most recently Mylene Klass and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini) and my husband actually asked me if I was doing it “to be trendy” (what a cheek! Then again he’s very vocal in his love of long hair, I think it’s a man thing). I’m at a cross roads now – it’s getting to the point where I either need to commit to this length and style and trim it again, or bite the bullet and grow it. I’m all set for keeping it short until I look at old pictures of myself with long hair and realise I loved it long (although it was more of a pain in the butt that it is now; made me too hot, took ages to dry). And also I can’t get it quite right. I’m struggling to achieve the wavy look that I really want, in spite of experimenting with tongs, mousse and curling with straighteners.

Here are some of my current hair-spiration pics.- the worry is separating the hair from the face. I’m never going to look like one of the Olsen twins, even if I shaved their hair off and stuck it on my very own head.

Olsen wavy bob

The colour is what makes this – you wouldn’t see that level of definition on my black hair

Wavy bob 5 Wavy bob 2

Slightly longer – again I think the colour is important (maybe I need to change my colour??!!)

Wavy bob Wavy bob 4

This is probably closest to my look

Wavy bob 3

And then I’d love to be able to do this, but plaiting your own hair is difficult.

Plaited bob

But then I miss this, especially now summer is coming. Accessories don’t seem to work as well on shorter hair.

Bandana 2  Feathers

Hairband 2 Hairband Long hair

Bandana

To conclude – there is no conclusion. I’ve actually confused myself even more. Maybe I should stick with the length and experiment with colour. Stripping the black dye and going for a mid brown might be a place to start…

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First tattoo

Yesterday I took my sister for her first tattoo. She asked me a while back if she was allowed to have one (not sure why I would be the point of approval instead of her parents?!) So I offered to pay for it as part of her 18th birthday present.

I’m a little wary of kids getting tattoos so young. A few of her friends already have numerous tattoos, obviously starting before the legal age. It’s kinda young to decide on something permanent, and I know my tastes are very different now than they were when I came of age. But she’d chosen a very simple and pretty design for her hip, which isn’t going to be cause for regret at any point.

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I had my first tattoo when I was 22. I’d wanted one for a lot of years, probably since I was around 17. I remember being in a shoe shop and seeing a girl bend forward and a tattoo being visible on the small of her back (now affectionately known as a tramp stamp). I thought it was fabulous! But still waited 5 years to get one myself. And then had it enlarged 3 times in quick succession.

After that, I didn’t get any more tattoos until I was married, 6 years ago. And what started as one nautical star on my left hip to signify our marriage has somehow grown; encompassing and overtaking the “tramp stamp”, extending up my side, and more recently across the top of my back. But the growth has been organic, measured and planned. As such I love my work and know that it’s truly representative of me. If anything, the weak spots are the original work I had done at 22/23, because it’s just swirly nice patterns, taking up prime skin real estate that I could now use for more meaningful pieces. Having said that, I don’t regret it, and that’s important.

My tattoo behaviour has definitely been affected by those around me. Not to say I’ve been influenced, but if I was in a relationship with someone who didn’t like ink then perhaps I would have less (or more likely, be single!) My husband and close friends have tattoos and it’s a common interest between us. I certainly have more than I ever thought I would, but for all the right reasons.

And maybe that’s why my sister wanted work done. Her boyfriend has tattoos, as do her Dad and our Mom. Asking me for permission was always going to be a yes, as saying no goes against my own appearance. And also, as old fashioned as it seems to tar tattooed people with the loser brush, the truth is that some people do judge tattooed people purely on their appearance. She sees that I’m a professional person with a respected work persona and a career, despite what I look like on my days off.

I also had some work done while I was at the studio (it was actually my appointment in the first place, but I offered to share it with my sis). It’s too pink and swollen to share at the mo, but it does signify the end of my most recent expansion.

Then again, I’ve said that before!

Here’s a topical tune from a band called L.U.S.T, from their 2010 album of the same name (it’s a great album)

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A bit on the side

I enjoy cooking (mainly because it means I get to eat!) but I only ever cook low fat healthy foods. I would feel too guilty eating something that I had seen myself put heaps of sugar or butter into, so I save my indulgences for eating out or takeaway food.

It also means that I can offset the piggyness of my dining experiences so that hopefully I don’t gain 5 stone and none of my clothes fit.

One of my favourite side dishes when cooking at home is stuffed peppers. They’re quick and easy, healthy, and you can change the filling to suit yourself, or to use up whatever is in the fridge and freezer.

Here I used one green and one red pepper, cut them in half, and put them cut side down on a baking tray

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Sprayed with one cal spray oil and cooked for around 10 minutes until softened.

For the filling I used white onion, mushrooms, courgettes and spinach. Frozen spinach is really useful to have to hand for dishes like this, I defrosted it in the microwave for time’s sake.

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Again used a little spray oil to fry the onions. Added the mushrooms and courgettes and covered. Then added garlic and crushed chillies (from a jar – convenience is key for mid week meals), spinach and tomato puree for flavour and to bind it all together.

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Filled the peppers and popped into the oven for around 5 minutes. I also added some dots of low fat cheese (one mini Babybel across all 4 pepper halves) for a bit of extra yummy gooeyness. Excuse my terrible photography – it’s blurred by the steam as these were straight from the oven!

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Other good fillings are sweetcorn, peas, chopped or cherry tomatoes. You cold make them more substantial by using mince meat or Quorn with herbs and spices. Mixing your ingredients into a thick cheese sauce is absolutely lovely, but that’s where the calories start to mount.

I served these stuffed peppers with chicken and asparagus. Yum.

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Cool Jewels

I’m a big fan of jewellery – it can make or break an outfit. More specifically I’m a big fan of statement jewellery. Loud, in your face, unusual and quirky. I don’t do subtle and I don’t do expensive.

The High Street is a great source of cool jewels at a good price. But even some of the main stores can go OTT on price for something that is, essentially, a transient piece. Not necessarily because you’ll get fed up of it, but because the quality will fail at some point. Water, soap, perfume and even natural body oils will contribute to the deterioration of costume jewellery, stripping the metal colouring. Studs and rhinestones will come loose and fall out. So buy cheap and enjoy!

I don’t wear gold, gold coloured or brass jewellery. I’ve been purely a silver/white gold girl for a loooong time, and I don’t like mixing metals.

Here are some of my current faves.

Bird ring from H&M – £5.99

Bird ringH&M bird ring

Set of 6 double rings from H&M – £3.99 (these come in different sizes so you can wear them as midi rings, which I’ve been obsessed by ever since Phoebe in Friends)

Silver rings

Double rings with chain from H&M (ages old, can’t remember price but around £3)

H&M double ring with chain

Poundland launched their range of own brand jewellery – Purple Ivy – fairly  recently, and I’ve picked up a couple of bits from there.

Stag head ring from Poundland – £1

Stackable diamante rings (set of 3) from Poundland – £1

 

Moving on to Primark – I bought these ages ago. They’re adjustable, so can be worn as midi rings too.

Initial rings from Primark – £1.99 each

Initial rings

This one reminds me of a Russian Doll!

New Look – can’t remember price (less than a fiver)

New Look enamel ring

This is my newest addition.

Double chain harness ring from Boohoo – £3

Double chain harness ringDaisy ringAnd now for my favourite and most bargainous source of jewellery – Ebay. There are many sellers in the Far East who are listing jewellery for pennies with free postage, and you’d be justified in thinking it would be rubbish. Not so. Comparable in quality to most things on the High Street you can pick up some really unusual pieces at total steal. Shipping usually takes around 10 days (although can be longer) but it’s worth the wait. Alternatively, if you’re wary or need something more quickly, there are UK sellers with great bargains too.

Coin necklace via ebay – approx. £5

Coin necklace

Stag head necklace via ebay – approx. £3 from the Far East (UK sellers are listing them for more)

Staghead necklace

Skeleton cameo pendant via ebay – approx. £3

Skeleton cameo<

Love/Hate double ring via ebay – approx. £5

Love hate ring 2 Love hate ring

Heart shaped nipple bar via ebay from China – £1.49 for 2!

Nipple bar

And here are some pieces I’ve received as gifts, so I don’t know the source or cost, but I do know that I love them.

Black acrylic ring

 

 Floral skull pendant

Floral skull pendant

Turquoise cuff and turquoise snake bangle

I can feel an ebay spree coming on…

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Wear your heart on your sleeve (or your thoughts on your chest)

A few weeks ago I bought this top from New Look. To wear in an ironic way, obvs (my wardrobe is testament to the out and out lie this statement is).

Nothing to wear

Doubly ironic, I bought another one at the same time, with the same logo, in a sleeveless black style (no longer on the site). So at least now, when I have nothing to wear, I have a choice of two things.

They also now have it in white, for summer. But that would just be overkill.

White nothing to wear

Wouldn’t it ?

I wouldn’t wear this one, as I’m not a sweatshirt person (it’s also only available in plus size), but the sentiment definitely echoes mine; sums me up from October through to April, every single year.

Miss Summer

More from New Look – I would probably change “shoes” to “EVERYTHING”!!

More shoes

Dorothy Perkins have these two, now with 30% off, making them a bargainous £10.50 each (I may place a sneaky order, I especially like the pink one).

Carpe Diem tee Cest La Vie tee

Boohoo have a whole section of logo tees; most of them are pretty tacky but I like this one, with the wording on the back (great slouchy shape and neckline too).

Dukes tee back Dukes tee front

H&M have this topical vest, which I do really like, but could never wear as I haven’t been to Coachella. It should be an unwritten rule – similar with city t-shirts (you’ll never catch me in anything that says NYC until I’ve been there).

H&M Coachella

I have this “Love” print tee from there – I bought two sizes up for a slouchy look and because H&M jersey does shrink up after a couple of washes (£7.99)

H&M Love

This one is super cute; I saw Jennifer Lawrence wearing it in a magazine and it’s actually from Truffle Shuffle – the wording is from The Twits by Roald Dahl, who’s books I used to read over and over as a kid. Unfortunately it’s described as cropped, and I don’t have the waistline for that anymore!

Good thoughts

Not sure where this one is from (it’s a screenshot from Facebook) but Google shows up a whole heap of variations. Isn’t this what every girl wants?!

Feed me and tell me I'm pretty

And finally, back to New Look, and one I would have contemplated buying in my redundant state (again I realise the irony of spending money to advertise your lack of it).

Skint t-shirt

Except I’VE ONLY GONE AND GOT MYSELF A NEW JOB! 3 days unemployed and I’m already off the market. I had a first interview on Monday, second interview yesterday and the role was confirmed at 5.15 last night. Which is great news. It’s a really great opportunity and one where I can develop new skills as well as using existing ones. Plus I don’t start for 2 weeks, which means an extended holiday, with redundancy pay! I can buy as many t-shirts as I like!

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