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

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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

 

 

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A classic case of need vs. want

We all know the drill; you see something that catches your eye, your inner magpie is on full alert, but you know deep down you don’t actually need it.

But you really, REALLY want it.

Let me introduce my multi coloured sequin skirt from H&M.

H&M multi coloured sequin skirt

I only ordered it to be nosy (honest). Then when it arrived I couldn’t bear to send it back.

It was such a bargain.

And so pretty.

Just look at those colours!

Multi sequin skirt close up

So I kept it.

And then, on Monday, I wanted to go out to lunch so I needed something to wear. And while it might not scream bank holiday in the pub, I made it work. The husband didn’t laugh when I came downstairs , AND he held my hand publicly.

Dressed down with my new snuggly star jumper, opaque tights and flat buckle boots.

I even briefly sat outside to watch it sparkle in the daylight.

Sequin skirt outside

And I’d do it all over again, oh yes I would! Next stop summer with a black t-shirt, denim waistcoat and gladiator sandals.

If summer ever arrives, of course.

Do you do eveningwear for daywear? Sequins in summer?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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DAYS OUT: Cardiff Castle

This week I had some emails telling me that Friendsfest tickets are on sale for this year. I guffawed loudly and remembered how crap it was last year – so overpriced and underwhelming (you can read about it, with pics, here). It didn’t help that we’d driven 100+ miles, from Birmingham to Cardiff, for the “privilege” and that it was one of the husband’s birthday presents.

Huge fail!

In an effort to make the day less of a fail we also went to Cardiff Castle, which was 10 minutes walk from Bute Park where FF was hosted. And honestly? That was a disappointment too! As a castle lover I was very much looking forward to visiting but I felt that it was overpriced (£12.50 per adult, for basic entry, plus an additional £3.25 for the house tour). Much of the castle has been rebuilt in more recent years, so it feels like it lacks authenticity (I like my castles gnarly and ruined and grand). The Norman keep was the best bit, in my opinion, as that’s what my idea of a castle is, and it’s a bit of a rip off to charge extra for the house tour considering how little else there is to see and do compared to other Welsh castles that charge much less for entry (we didn’t do it on principal and because it struck us more as entering into stately home territory, which isn’t really our bag).

It’s fair to say I wouldn’t recommend it unless you happen to be in the area (don’t make a special journey); there are much more interesting and striking castles in Wales.

On that note, here are some pics!

 

 

 

 

Have you ever been to Cardiff Castle? What did you think? Am I doing it a disservice?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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One size DOES NOT fit all

A big well done today to ASOS, who have announced plans to start showing the same clothes on different sizes and shapes of models.

Because we all know that a dress we buy online isn’t going to look the same as it does on the model…don’t we?

So, won’t it be nice to see the effect of wider hips or a bugger bust or shorter legs on clothes before we buy them?

ASOS different sizes

More importantly it’s a recognition that women do come in all shapes and sizes, and that we want to see all shapes and sizes reflected in our decision making process.

Naturally it’s going to take a while to roll out across the entire website, but it’s already a great start. Other retailers take note!

Read the full story here.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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BREAKFAST REVIEW: Comptoir Libanais, T4 Heathrow Airport

When you have an early start at an airport it makes sense to get there, check in and have something to eat while you’re waiting for your flight. I usually get the fear of not knowing when I’m going to eat again (this also happens to me on car journeys of more than 1 hour) so not eating is not an option.

I’m not much of a traditional breakfast person, I really have to fancy the sausage/bacon/eggs combo that is so prevalent at breakfast time, so when we were going to Malaysia last year and the husband told me he’d researched eating options at Heathrow terminal 4 and found something that was right up my street I was intrigued.

(as an aside, the reason I didn’t know what was there myself was that I thought we were flying from T2, had booked our pre flight hotel near to T2 and had looked at breakfast options at T2. D’oh)

Comptoir Libanais is classed as a Lebanese canteen, serving traditional Lebanese cuisine alongside more traditional options. Now, this is a chain restaurant, and a chain in an airport at that, plus I’ve never eaten Lebanese food, so I don’t know how good it is compared with other Lebanese restaurants, but I really enjoyed it!

The restaurant is decorated with lots of bright colours, tiles, wicker and storage tins, with wooden tables and chairs.

Comptoir Libanais table close up

Comptoir Libanais Heathrow

Table service is offered and the waitress was incredibly friendly and smiley (2 things I couldn’t be if I was serving food to people going on holiday while I was stuck working).

So, what had the husband found that was right up my street? Shakshuka with Sojok. Don’t go thinking he picks out what I do and don’t eat, because that definitely doesn’t happen, but as soon as I saw the menu I said “I want that” and he told me that was what he thought I’d go for. The combination of Middle Eastern spices and flavours with the lamb sausage had my name written all over it (well, not really, my name isn’t Sojok, but you know what I mean), with pita bread to mop up all that delicious sauce.

Shaksuka with sojok

I said at the time, and till stand by this, that it would be a nice thing to try and recreate at home, but being as it’s 11 month since we we had it the chances of me realistically doing it are probably slim.

Lebanese beer and Minta frozen vodka

I paired my food with a Minta frozen vodka (don’t judge me, I was on holiday!) which, honestly? Was a bit like drinking alcoholic grass, because it contained all the mint, shredded up into leafy mintness and it was so overpowering that I couldn’t taste any other flavours (lemon, lime and orange blossom, apparently) but I drank it anyway because it contained vodka (I don’t like to waste alcohol) and it cost £7.95 which was as much as my breakfast.

The husband had a beer, so he looked like an alcoholic whilst I looked like a health freak.

 

Conclusion – I’d definitely recommend it if you fancy something a bit different, but have a different drink!

Are you a traditional breakfast person? Or do you prefer something a bit different?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Wise words from Stephen Hawking

I’ll be honest, I don’t know an awful lot about Stephen Hawking. I know that he was an incredibly intelligent man with a capacity for knowledge, analysis, understanding and comprehending the world and the universe that most people will never come close to. I know that he never allowed himself to be defined by his disability, and overcame physical limitations to be able to share his incredible brain power.

But, in the wake of his recent death, these are the things about Stephen Hawking that resonated and will stay with me.

Stephen Hawking quote

This. Always this. Never stop learning, questioning, reading and wanting to know more.

Stephen Hawking assisted dying

And this.

If one of the most intelligent men of our time can understand the need for assisted dying, and the need for the taboo and secrecy behind it to stop, then why can’t our government?

I would suggest that they adhere to the first quote and read more about the process, the people involved, public opinion, and the heartache of individuals and families denied the right to choose death instead of prolonged terminal suffering.

Read more about why I support UK charity Dignity in Dying and a change in the assisted dying law here.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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Day 3 in Rome – The Colosseum and Roman Forum

If you’re going to have to turn 40, there are worst ways to start your day than waking up in Rome with a visit to the Colosseum on the cards. Once again my pre-planning had come into it’s own, because I found through research that the Colosseum has bookable private tours of areas not open to the public. I wanted to get tickets for the undergound tour, which are are only released a few weeks in advance; I knew they were in high demand and unfortunately missed out. Fortuitously though, a new tour has just been launched – the Belvedere tour – which takes visitors up to the third and fourth tiers of the structure giving incredible views and a real feel of the size of the arena, so we still got to do something “extra” than most people have access to.

As we approached the Colosseum it was so strange to see the contrast of modern construction against such an old and important point of interest (a new underground rail line is being built to service this area of the city).

I underestimated the walking distance from our hotel (much to the chagrin of the husband and his aching bones) so we arrived just about in time to go through security and meet up with our tour guide. Everyone was given a headset to listen to the very interesting commentary as we walked around. The tour starts in the same entrance used by all visitors and then proceeds to the higher levels which are behind locked doors and only accessed by venue officials.

We learned that, despite depictions in films, gladiators fought other gladiators (highly trained fighter who went to “Gladiator School” in an attempt to gain fame and fortune) and not animals (that was reserved for criminals). We learned that it was not only lions that were shipped in for these fights, but also larger African animals like elephants and giraffes! We learned that, to celebrate the opening of the Colosseum in 80AD (known the as the Flavian Amphitheatre), a 100 day ceremony took place which saw events and fighting every day for the length of the opening ceremony. Tickets to attend events at the Colosseum were free, on a first come first served basis, and carved into a stone tablet, apart from upper class seats, right at the side of the arena, which were reserved for the ruling emperor, politicians and wealthy upper class members of society. We looked down from the highest possible point of the structure, looking at the tiered seating and the underground portion of the arena where you can still see evidence of the labyrinth of corridors which would have been hidden by the stage; where fighters and animals were kept until such time that they were due to perform, when they would be propelled up onto the stage by an elaborate (for the time) lift contraption and through a trapdoor.

Read some interesting facts about animal fights in the Colosseum.

After the tour we were free to wander around at will, looking at some of the permanent exhibitions and just feeling the sheer size of the space, marveling at the construction (it’s so symmetrical! And so well preserved!) And obviously taking all of the photos!

Me at the colosseum

After leaving the Colosseum, we headed across the cobbled courtyard to the entrance to the Forum and Palatine Hill, which is included in the costs of the standard Colosseum entry ticket. The ticket is valid for 2 days, so you could do one attraction on one day and the other the next, which is very useful if you’re pushed for time. It also represents really good value with everything you get to see for one price.

The Forum was the centre of ancient Rome, originally a marketplace and now surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government ruins. Shrines and temples, columns, both intact and in pieces, carved stone – it’s amazing to see the layout of the area still as it once was, even after all these years.

These doors are 2000 years old, and the lock still works! (that blew my mind)

2000 year old doors Roman Forum

The Arch of Titus was commissioned by Emperor Titian, in memory of his brother.

I wonder what this says?

Carvings on roman ruins

Upon leaving I took even more photos of the Colosseum because, honestly, it was just breathtaking and just incredible to see.

What a way to spend a birthday!

Did you see my previous posts, about my first day and second day?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Friday Feeling [28] – Guide dog for the…dog?

It’s not only blind and visually impaired people who can benefit from a guide dog; blind canines can too!

Golden Retriever Jake had to have both of his eyes removed following severe infections when he was a puppy and his owners were understandably worried about how he would manage without sight.

But their other, younger Golden Retriever Addie stepped in as Jake’s official guide; helping him to climb the stairs and get around on walks.

Blind Jake and Addie.PNG

The two have their own instagram account where they’re often pictured dressed the same, and Jake wears a bell on his collar so that guide Addie always knows where he is to be able to help him.

Read the full story here.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Ever heard of women’s clothes retailer Tobi?

No? Me either…until they got in touch and asked if I’d like them to send me 3 items of clothes and style them my way. I thought about it for all of 0.3 milliseconds before snapping their hand off!

Tobi is based in the US but they offer free international delivery taking 8-9 working days. It does mean waiting a little longer for your order than you you may be used to when shopping online, but a bit of pre-planning should help to avoid any disappointment.

So, what did I go for?

Firstly these floral jersey flares.

I’m a big fan of easy to wear statement trousers and these definitely fall into that category. They’re pull on style with an elasticated waist and a pleasingly flarey flare! These trousers will work for year round wear (except on rainy days, no-one needs a soggy hem!); I’ll add wedges and a loose vest top in summer, and ankle boots and a jumper in winter. For in betweeny days, a denim jacket will be perfect too.

Tobi floral flares outfit

Clockwise, from left: Tobi floral flares, New Look crochet hem vest top, Matalan crochet shoulder bag, H&M denim jacket, New Look pink suedette wedges.

My second choice item is these leather look flared trousers (a bit of a theme here!) I have some faux leather trousers, and some coated leather look skinnies which I love, so I thought a different cut would be a good idea to add into my wardrobe. Unfortunately they’re not very long in the leg, so wearing super high heels (which would be my preference) is out of the question (I can’t stand to see a short flare with a high heel), but a pair of cuban heel western style boots and a print tee will also work well.

Tobi flared leather look trousers outfit

Clockwise, from left: Tobi leather look flares, H&M (men’s) skull print tee, eBay red fringed bag, Office ponyskin leopard print boots

The final item I was sent by Tobi is this gorgeous wine coloured flowing fabric dress. I was thinking this would be beautiful for summer holidays, but it’s unfortunately very short on me (and I’m not that tall, I’m 5ft 6 inches) so I’ll be wearing it as a tunic top instead. I’m thinking it would be great with a pair of wet look leggings and some statement heels for a night out, or maybe dressed down over battered denim shorts in summer.

Tobi cold shoulder dress outfit

Clockwise, from left: Tobi cold shoulder dress, River Island leather look leggings, ASOS embellished clutch, ASOS ankle strap sandals.

*These items were sent to me free of charge by Tobi, Opinions and styling ideas are my own.

Thanks, as always, for reading!

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