Friday Feeling [17] – love before status

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

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

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

Princess Mako and Kei Komuro

All together now, awwwww!

Read the full story here.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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The last “first”

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

This is the last “first”.

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

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

Loss

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

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

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

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

 

Friday Feeling [16] – school friends

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

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

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

Jack and Rani Educating Greater Manchester

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

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

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

A perfect summer’s day

Hey! I’m back from my week in Greece, more on that later in another post. It was so nice to land on Sunday afternoon and be met by warm sunny weather, rather than the usual shock to the system when you’ve been in warmer climes. Even better was having an extra day off in the form of Bank Holiday Monday to soften the blow of being home, and yesterday was gorgeously warm and sunny in Birmingham. Yesterday was everything that every weekend was supposed to be in summertime, but has mainly failed miserably due to our rubbish British weather.

I had a lazy start to the day, a leisurely walk to the shops for breakfast supplies, and ate a sausage and mushroom sandwich. Then I pottered around in my garden, trimming bushes and hedges, pruning my overgrown climbing roses, watering all my plants that were thirsty after a week with no love or rain, and repotting rose bushes and french lavender to give them more space to grow.

It’s been so long since I’ve been able to spend any length of time out there because of the rain and general non-summeriness. I’ve probably not had a proper potter since the beginning of July. I was in my element; it’s exactly how I hoped to be spending my summer days. In truth I’d written off any chance of it happening as summer draws to a close (boooooo) but it was great to have a last hurrah.

Sunglasses in the garden

I’ve loved populating my green space with pretty stuff. These ornamental ladders came via a well timed trip to HomeSense, after I’d spotted similar on Pinterest.

Ornamental ladders

I’ve stacked them with pretty lanterns and solar lights from Poundland; they have such lovely garden bits and pieces.

Garden ornaments

These lightbulb shape multi-coloured solar lights were last year’s Poundland, from the Charlie Dimmock garden range (there’s also a blue and yellow one hidden from view)

Solar lightbulbs

These are my favourite garden ornaments though; Easter Island head planters from B&Q with blue grass “hair”. We call them Bert and Ernie (Bert is on the left with the emo sweepy hair and Ernie has the big forehead!)


In the evening we ate Chinese takeaway in the last of the sun and then watched the last two episodes of Game of Thrones season 7, catching up on the one we missed last week while we were away, and yesterday’s season finale. No spoilers, but I was slightly disappointed; previous seasons have led to big expectations!

How was your bank holiday?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Friday Feeling [15] – a distraction from the horrors of real life

I could post today about the horrors in Barcelona. But what would I say? I would say that the world can be a horrible place. I would say that terrorists are evil people with a strange comprehension of what is right and wrong. I would say that I can’t imagine how the families of those innocent people caught up in a religious and political war must feel, and how they will ever put themselves back together. I would say that it’s scary how places many of us may have visited, or wanted to visit, are being targeted by these inhuman scum; that it could have been any of us caught up in another senseless tragedy.

But most of us already know those things. And saying them again doesn’t change it. We can only keep good people in our hearts and hope for better days ahead.

In the meantime, have a chortle at my favourite panda video. Because I truly believe that it’s impossible to be truly sad whilst watching pandas being…well…pandas!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Friday Feeling [14] – Cycling Without Age

It’s a sad fact that as people get older and less mobile, they’re less likely to get out and about; especially if their family isn’t around or they’ve had to move to a residential home.

Cycling Without Age – a volunteer staffed initiative based in Falkirk – aims to change that. Young, fit and healthy volunteers are taking elderly people out on 3 seater rickshaw style bicycles around the local area and countryside.

How amazing is that?

Look at their faces!

Cycling without age Falkirk

You can read more about it, including a link to the BBC 3 Amazing Humans film that was made about it here.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

5 things I discovered last week

Life’s an education, as the saying goes (unless I just made that up?) and last week was no exception! I made new discoveries, refound old discoveries and created a new and tasty drink!

  • Aidan Gillan who plays Littlefinger in Game of Thrones was also in Queer as Folk (I used to love that show…)
  • Cherry lambrini adds a whole new dimension to Pimms (don’t judge me, this was the result of a Good Housekeeping article although they suggested cherry juice rather than alcoholic cherry wine, but still)
  • My stripy jeans still fit me, and are perfectly acceptable work attire (benefits of a casual office)
  • The Bob Marley song “Don’t Worry” is actually called 3 Little Birds (this one blew my mind a little)

Bob Marley 3 Little Birds quote

  • The Money Pit still makes me laugh like a drain, especially this scene – Tom Hanks does comedy so brilliantly!

Tom Hanks The Money Pit

What did you discover or rediscover recently?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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