Month: July 2015

Welsh Wales

I’m having a long weekend in North Wales. And, despite previous panics and deliberations (which you can read about here) I couldn’t be happier.

I love North Wales dearly, have done ever since I was a kid. It’s so green and mountainous and vast. It’s where lamb comes from (sometimes). I love lamb, it’s my absolute favourite meat. I love the Welsh accent. I love Welsh words and spellings that seem to make no sense and have not enough vowels in them. We came across a rather delightful road sign a couple of years back – Pant Cudd. It means hidden dip, rather than the rude dirtiness me and hubby conjured up. We say it every time we go Wales.

I love the rivers, and waterfalls, and castles. I love the grey stone with which many of the villages are built. I love the barrenness of mountain landscapes where it seems nothing can survive, and then you see a random sheep all on it’s own (and wonder how the hell it got up there?!) I love dry stone walls, the technique of which is apparently a dying art. I love the slate quarries and the steam railway and the mirror like lakes.

Ah, Wales. I’m excited to be in you!

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A massive sigh of relief, “I-tal-you”

From what, you might ask?

(or might not!)

Is it relief at having passed my job probation? Relief that the weather forecast in Wales has improved since my last desperate post? Relief that the Foo Fighters have rearranged some dates after cancelling Wembley due to Dave’s broken leg?

Nope. None of those things.

It’s relief that finally, at last, after weeks of deliberation and stress…

…we’ve booked a summer holiday.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a predilection to being dramatic, but in this case rightly so. I truly believe that we have never struggled to agree on a week away as much as this year.

Timing was an issue; we have so much on over the remaining summer months (I know, diddums) that we were struggling on when to go (and no point shoehorning something in for the sake of it). Realistically we don’t have time until mid October, by which point many of the traditional resorts in Europe are too cool temperature wise to guarantee a great holiday (not that it’s all about lying in the sun, but for what we were originally looking at that would probably have been the case).

Expectation was also an issue, because neither of us would commit to what we actually wanted from a holiday – was it just lying around doing nothing at all, or maybe with some sightseeing thrown in, or total sightseeing? We’ve danced around each other nervously, with husband eventually telling me that he would go along with whatever I wanted to do (probably because I was getting this wild woman of Borneo look in my eye and started twitching whenever a week off was mentioned).

Egypt was on the list; Sharm el Sheikh for late season sunshine and a day trip to the Pyramids as we’ve both always wanted to go. But recent horrors in Tunisia made us rethink that plan. Even if we scrapped the pyramid visit and just stayed in the resort, where there’s increased security, Egypt is a bit too close to the conflict for comfort; especially when attacks have happened from the sea. And do I really want to be sunbathing and watching an armed security team from the corner of my eye. Er, no.

Hong Kong was also on the list, but then with even more things popping into our calendar that require time off here and there, we don’t really have enough annual leave to do it justice. And it’s a bloomin’ long flight to only have 5 real usable days once you take travel time into account. Plus it would be full on doing and seeing stuff, which I don’t think is what husband really wants (although he’s too scared to say anything – negative or positive – by now, in case it finally tips me over the edge!!) So that was shelved.

Greece was a real contender, as it’s still warm into October and they really need tourist investment right now. But we’ve been to Greece for the past two years and weren’t sure if we were just considering it because we didn’t know where else to go.

And then I came across an amazing deal in Italy. Flying into Naples, staying just outside Sorrento in a cliff side hotel. Free minibus to Sorrento multiple times each day. Excursions to Vesuvius and Pompeii. A boat trip to Capri. A drive along the Amalfi coast. All options that are open to us, if we want them. OK, it’s not going to be scorchio in October. But it will, at worst, be t-shirt and shorts weather in the day, perfectly nice for sitting outside overlooking the sea and reading a book. Ideal temperature for sightseeing. And should the worst happen, and it rains, we’re staying at a fabulous all inclusive hotel so we can sit inside and eat and drink all day long.

I’m thrilled. Beyond thrilled, actually. I’ve been wanting to visit the Neopolitan Riviera and always just assumed we’d do a city break. This way we get the best of both worlds – relaxing AND sightseeing, It’s a really economical way to do it as well, which is always good (OK, that’s all relative, but cheaper than a city break and a separate chilling holiday, and also great value due to being all inclusive, as food and drink in Italy is expensive). We’ll probably eat out a couple of times, and obviously spend money on some excursions. Pompeii!! I come over all Frankie Howerd (oo-er) just thinking about it!

(and now my poor attempt at humour in the title of this post makes sense as well, no?)

Meanwhile, to get me even more excitable, here are some pics. Just wow!

Sorrento Sorrento 2

Pompeii

Vesuvius

Green Grotto of Capri Amalfi Coast

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Twit of the Day…EE

Actually it’s more about greed, and poor customer service. Which I suppose is pretty twit-ish, when you consider that it’s supposed to be customer service.

I’ve had my new mobile for just over 3 months, and for the past two days it won’t charge properly. I know it’s a problem with the phone as I’ve tried multiple chargers.

So I phoned EE customer service, to receive the standard message that they’re very busy ad it may take a while to answer my call. Yada yada yada. But then, a message that says my call can be put in a priority queue if I pay 50 pence. What? I now have to pay for decent customer service? What happens if everyone who calls pays that 50 pence charge and gets put to the front? Will my call ever get answered?

And then, when I do get through, I’m told that I can either claim on my insurance any pay my excess (er, no) or they’ll give me the number for Samsung and I can take it up with them (er, no) or I can opt for loan and repair, but I need to go into a shop to arrange that. Not easy when I work full time.

Pretty useless really.

So I tweet EE with my displeasure about their consumerist rob dogging 50 pence charge, and (to be fair to them) they tweet me back to say sorry I’m not happy and is there anything they can do to help? So I say yes, you could give me a viable option for fixing my phone as it’s not my fault???

AND THEN THEY DON’T REPLY!!!

EE

So, EE, you’re a bunch of twits. Who I’m stuck with for 21 months due to being on a 2 year contract. Screw you!

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My 100th post!

100 blog posts
 

I feel like I should post something profound and memorable.

But I’m kind of at a loss (I don’t really do profound and memorable, as the last 99 posts prove!)

So I’d just like to say a big thanks to anyone who has followed me – either purposely or by accident – whether you have read one post or more regularly, and whether you stick with it or realise it’s not going to get any better so you may as well bail out!!

Thank you elephant
Thank you for your time, your comments, your thoughts and interactions. I really appreciate it.

Multilingual thanks

I look forward to sharing more as my little corner of the internet ambles along.

Lots of love, K xx

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Settling in to a new job

It’s been 3 months since I started my new job. 3 months yesterday, to be precise. I was aware of the impending milestone and thought about it last week, then promptly forgot about until I received an email from our HR manager yesterday telling me I’d passed my probation. Woo and hoo! I mean, I think I’ve been doing OK, but you never know.

I’d been in my previous job for 8 years and, although I’d worked under different managers and in different offices, I was settled there. Settled as in I knew my job pretty much inside out, felt comfortable with most of the people I worked with, was confident in my ability. But the advent of a new director changed the dynamic completely. I was already looking for a new job, admittedly half heartedly, when I got made redundant.

It’s the best thing that could have happened to me in that role.

I read this article in the Metro a while back, and emailed it to myself to remind me how far I’d come (and to laugh at if a bad day arose!) It’s easy to think on your first day that you’re never going to get it. Even if you know that you know your stuff, you can start to feel like the biggest doofus in a new environment.

The expert in anything was once a beginner

And the smallest things really matter! Numbers 2, 8 and 10 in the article. I left home so early it was pretty much still the night before! (OK, slight exaggeration). Lunch was especialy weird, as in my old job I used to come home for lunch. And as for the toilet, it honestly took me about 6 weeks to turn the right way when I came out of the bathroom and back to my office (I got confused with the direction to the kitchen).

What was that about being confident in my ability?!

Sometimes forced changes bring other changes too. Like, for me, this blog. I’d been thinking about starting one for years, never getting round to it. Once I realised I was potentially going to have a lot of time on my hands, I gave me the incentive to get cracking.

New jobs don’t always work out for people; especially when they’re in a forced situation like redundancy and need to get something new. I know I’ve been lucky. The change of organisation size (large to small) and change of culture (corporate to caring) has been a breath of fresh air. I now get to liaise with actual people and hear the difference our product makes, rather than other businesses who are just trying to cut costs their side.

But you know what? If I hadn’t been lucky, and the new job hadn’t worked out, that would have been OK too. Because once you’ve made the move – whether by choice or by force – you’ve done the hard bit. And you realise that being the newbie isn’t the end of the world.

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Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul Festival

Moseley, just outside Birmingham, has a private park. To use the park you need to buy a key. It’s only around £45 a year, so is pretty good value.

You wouldn’t know the park existed if you were just walking through Moseley. The main entrance is down a little alleyway. There are also 2 other gated entrances, on other roads.

The great thing about it for me, apart from the fact that it’s hidden and you have to pay, is that it’s wild. No carefully manicured flowerbeds. No children’s playground. Just expanses of green, a massive pool, wildlife and trees that are hundreds of years old. It’s a proper little oasis.

Moseley Park 2 Moseley Park

Twice a year Moseley holds 3 day festivals in the park. Jazz, funk and soul in July, and folk in September. This weekend just gone was the turn of funk soul and jazz.

We had no intention of going as musically it’s not really our thing, until we heard that the original Friday night headliners had pulled out, and Public Enemy had been booked in their place. Public Enemy! American Hip Hop Royalty, playing right in my hood! Well that was one not to be missed.

So glad we went along. The park was set up beautifully; with bars, food stalls, face painting, stalls selling hats, glasses, guitars, dreamcatchers, vintage clothes and more.

Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul festival

Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul festival

The trees were strung with fairy lights and people came armed with deckchairs and rugs to sit in the chilled out surroundings and soak up the gorgeously sunny day and amazing atmosphere.

Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul festival

I bought some new sunglasses.

Catseye sunglasses

And also a dreamcatcher.

Dreamcather stall

How good is this mural of Public Enemy? My shorts are from F&F; they’d only arrived that morning.

Public Enemy mural

The only disappointment of the day was the food. With so many great street food vendors in and around Birmingham I had high expectations. But choice was limited to about 6 or 7 stalls, and the quality wasn’t that good. I had some lukewarm noodles and a greasy burger which I left half of. At £13 for two things I didn’t really enjoy, the concensus was “could do better”.

I threw myself into the spirit with some glitter facepaint and crystal bindis.

Face painting at Moseley Soul Funk and Jazz Festival

We watched beatboxing and breakdancing.

Beatboxing

As dusk started to fall the atmosphere turned into a big full on party as Public Enemy came on stage and absolutely stormed it.

Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul festival

Moseley Jazz Funk and Soul festival

By Saturday morning I regretted only having bought a day ticket, as I could hear goings on from my balcony. Even with a lot of the music not being my thing, I’d have been happy to just chill in the park and let the fabulous atmosphere wash over me.

Yesterday finished with Gregory Porter. What a booking for a little surburban festie! I’m told he was fabulous.

Yet another reason why I love living in Moseley!

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Twit of the Day award…this chauvinistic idiot…

You’ve probably seen the story about the girl who went on a Tinder date, had a great time, only to receive a message from the bloke after the event telling her that she wasn’t slim enough for him to fall for.

If not you can read it here in Stylist magazine (it’s been covered in a few publications)

There’s so much wrong with this story, and twit is too tame a word to describe the knobhead bloke in question, but what with me being a lady (guffaw), and the fact that I was building something of a “twit series” (here, here, here and here) that’s the word I’ll go with.

He’s a twit (spelling mistake, I’m using the wrong vowel) for more than one reason.

a) because he’s viewing her from a purely physical point of view
b) because he admits he had a great time, yet is willing to deprive himself of more good times because she doesn’t fit his aesthetic
c) because he had the gall to tell her what he thinks
d) because he put it in writing, therefore asking to be publicly shamed
e) because he thinks that his opinion will make her change to suit him

My biggest problem with it all, apart from all of it, is the last one. That he probably thought he could get her to change to suit him. Just because it suited him. That she would want to be with an opinionated, small minded, egotistical, big headed TW*T enough to change her lifestyle and looks. For him.

Or, even if not to be with him, then he thought his opinion mattered enough to embarrass and shock her into taking action. He makes it sound like he’s doing her a favour.

Where does he get off?

But, what’s really sad, is that there are women out there who would do that. Women who want to be loved and accepted, and would believe that their weight is getting in the way. That sucks.

If you’re unhappy with your appearance and want to change then all power to you. But they key is YOU. If YOU’RE unhappy. Not your family. Not your friends. Certainly not some jerk you’ve been on one date with.

I love Michelle’s response, which you can read in full on her blog. The very best bit, for me, is her PPS at the end.

“You’re not 5’11”

Roughly translates to “f*ck you, you piece of crap”.

Bravo Michelle.

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Some more sale buys

Here are some of the things I’ve been buying from various places over recent weeks, collated into what looks like a rather greedy list, when I put it all together!

Cheesecloth boho top – F&F

Tesco F&F boho blouse

This is my current favourite item. I love it! I love the tassel neck tie, I love the sleeve width and length, I love that it’s crinkly cheesecloth that you can just wash and wear. And I love that I also got 20% off the £16 price tag. With a pair of battered denim shorts it’s the ideal summer outfit.

Speaking of battered denim shorts…
Falmer mid blue denim shorts – Matalan

Matalan Falmer denim shorts

My perfect denim shorts. I find they tend to be either too snug, or too short, or too long. These are ideal; they sit on the hips, are the perfect colour blue and come pre-distressed. £14 well spent (I think I had 20% off as well).

Tan heeled sandals – Deichmann

Deichmann tan heeled sandals

These were a bargainous £8 in Deichmann’s half price sale (a shop that’s definitely worth a look at – they have some crap but the odd gem pops up). I like these with turned up tatty boyfriend jeans; the contrast between laid back and dressed up really works for me.

Boyfriend jeans and tan heels

They’re not leather, but they are mega mega comfy (in fact I’m wearing them today and they’re like slippers. If slippers had heels and peep toes)

Little Mistress midi skirt – Dorothy Perkins

Little Mistress stripe skirt

I had a Carrie Bradshaw moment when I put this skirt on. It makes me want to twirl! It was half price in the DP sale; reduced from £50 to £25. Husband said it looks like something his Mom would wear (I’ve known his Mom for 10 years, and no way!) and I don’t have anywhere to wear it but I can’t let it go. It was all packed up ready to be returned and I retrieved it last minute. Too pretty (and pretty classic too). I’m thinking black Bardot top and black heeled sandals. Luckily enough, I have both!

Black and white stripe dress – New Look

New Look stripe dress

Another one I have no occasion for. Oops. But it was only £15 and is so lovely! One of my very first blog posts was about buying bargains when you see them so you don’t have to go hunting when an occasion arises. Well so far I have a plethora of bargains and sod all places to go! So I think I’ll try dressing this one down and wearing it that way. Or just dress it right up and prance around the supermarket like a loon.

Tooled leather belt – New Look

New look tan tooled leather beltNew Look tooled leather belt

My previous tan jeans belt is getting a bit tight (or rather I’m getting a bit bigger – I’d like to say it’s because I’m wearing my jeans lower than when I bought the belt but that would be a lie). This one was reduced to £7 in the New Look sale and has small metal studs and a silver buckle (silver…hurrah…be gone gold hardware!)

Lace and feather print scarf – New Look

New look multi lace print scarf New Look multi lace print scarf

I like the colours, I like the mix of patterns, I like the £4 price tag. Done. Wore it at Download as the Sunday felt more like March than June <<insert grumble about British summertime here>>

Ah, I do love the sales!

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Sucked in by the H&M sale

I say “sucked in” like I had no choice. In truth I can’t resist a sale email. The minute I receive one I’m scrabbling to hit the website so I don’t miss out on all the stuff I don’t really need. And H&M does give good sale. Hats off to it – the reductions are usually pretty substantial and they have some decent stuff in as well, not just last season’s tat (although in store is usually another story). Here’s what I bought.

Jersey mini skirts

H&M stripe mini skirtH&M lycra mini skirt

At £4 a pop or less these were a no brainer. Easy to wear, they’re my alternative to a loose dress for summer work days – chuck on a baggy tunic top and sandals and you’re good to go.

V-back bell sleeve lace top

H&M lace top H&M lace top

I’ve always had a thing for bell sleeves – I used to have a green lace shirt that I wore tied at the midriff back when I had less midriff (whistful music playing in background). Anyway, this obviously needs something underneath, so I wore a plain black bandeau and teamed it with my Coachella for H&M fringed skirt. Lovely summery festivally boho-y(?) vibes.

Sleeveless frill top

H&M frill top

Ooh, this is a beaut. Long enough to team with leggings to hide VPL or camel toe, it has a small metal fastening at the neck and that lovely waterfall frill. I’m thinking leather trousers and spiky heels. Not in this weather though, obvs. I might buy the pinky colour too.

Cream patterned shorts

H&M patterned twill shorts

These weren’t in the sale per se, but I did nab them with 30% off so that counts. I first saw them on Lisa’s blog and liked the look of them. They have lots of colours in which makes them easy to match with stuff. I wore them with a tan coloured 3/4 sleeve baggy top and studded beige biker boots to offset the amount of leg they show, what with me not being 21 anymore. They might also work with a denim shirt, but that would need some investigation.

Stone suede boots

H&M suede biker boots

Be still my beating heart! Actual real suede (most of my shoedrobe is “faux” as I’m a quantity over quality kind of girl), these have “stand on me” written all over them. I fear for them getting trashed and as such may impose an exclusion zone when I’m wearing them. The ever elusive silver hardware too. Lush.

In truth I didn’t need any of it. But can I live without it? No!

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Holiday stress (first world problems)

It’s rather ridiculous that something that’s supposed to be fun, something to look forward to and something to relax you should be stressful. But my head is about to burst this year!

I’m very much of the “let’s use our annual leave to see stuff and go places” school of thought. Husband would happily spend a week at home. I think that’s a ridiculous waste of time. I usually always win.

This year we’re a bit short on annual leave, as we both started new jobs in April and so our holiday has been pro rata’d accordingly. Hence why we found ourselves sitting down with a spreadsheet, no less, to carve up our annual leave. That kind of ruins the fun straight away.

We’d planned on a short break to Europe, 3 or 4 nights all inclusive where we could lounge in the sun, read books, eat and drink loads. I would have shoe-horned in a daytrip somewhere too, just to satisfy my wanderlust. We were all priced up and researched and ready to go to Majorca.

I mean, look at it. Why wouldn’t you?

Majorca

Then, in true us style, we faffed. Not because we didn’t want to go, but because life happens. And by the time we did come to book it, the price had gone up by over £100.

Arse.

I then suggested Greece. Loads of bargains to be had, and as long as you’re all inclusive and paid up front you don’t need money, right? Husband was reticent – pointing out that the hotels may run out of money to buy food. I poo-pooed him and would have booked but I have to say now, with events of yesterday, that I’m glad one of us has a sensible head (I hope he isn’t reading this).

And so we decided on Wales. Now that might seem rather a departure (pun intended) from beach and guaranteed sunshine. But North Wales is one of my very favourite places in the UK – so green and atmospheric and mountainous and just generally ace. And we had plans of going on sunny walks, searching out waterfalls, eating lamb (of course!), sitting in beer gardens and generally chilling out.

North Wales

Our plans were nearly scuppered when the only guesthouse we wanted to stay at was showing no availability online, but a quick call and some jiggery-pokery meant that the owner was able to accommodate us.

All well and good.

Until today when the bloody weather forecast has turned and is now showing a rather unseasonal 14 degrees and rain for next weekend. And husband’s colleague has just come back from North Wales and didn’t see any of last week’s heatwave.

What to do? I have revisited Majorca plans in a mad panic, as the thought of spending precious annual leave in a sodden sulk fills me with dread. And the cost of keeping ourselves occupied will no doubt boost the Welsh trip into the realms of European spend anyway. But am I being a brat? Should I accept my fate and make the best of it, whatever the weather?

Don’t even start me on how we’ll agree on the rest of our leave. I had grand plans for Hong Kong, even offering to pay for us from my redundancy fund, but husband has little desire to go East.

That week at home that he so desires may be closer than he thinks…

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