Thursday, 20 July 2017

LOTS OF ROOM FOR ACTIVITIES . . .

When I was a kid, I had a lot of hobbies and extra-curricular activities. I think my folks wanted to keep me and my siblings from playing on the road as much as possible, so we spent a lot of time at classes and clubs during term time, or workshops and playschemes over the summer.


Even when we went on holiday to Pontins, we would do activities rather than hanging around the arcade all day - that was pretty awesome though, to be honest. Let's face it, I probably never would have got to do rifle shooting, quad biking, abseiling and climbing or play the most awesome game in the world-  aeroball - if we hadn't!

Anyway, here's some of the many things I did as a youngster . . .

SWIMMING CLUB
I was never very good at swimming. I mean, I'm better than your average person, I guess, but compared to everyone else in the swimming club, I was a bit shite. Basically, when you started you were put in the beginner's lane and as you progressed, you moved up to a more advanced lane, and so on. I think I moved up one lane, and then never went any further. Newer people would join me in that lane, and within a matter of weeks have moved on to the next lane. I just festered in that one lane for several years. On the upside, our dad used to give us our pocket money based on how many lengths we did so that was an incentive to make sure I did my fifty lengths every week! (It was 10p a length and was capped at a fiver so there was no point in going over that!)

BALLET
I really really wanted to do tap and modern dance but they were on a Saturday afternoon and we always saw my grandparents on a Saturday afternoon so I couldn't do tap and modern dance. Ballet, however, was on a Friday night so for two years I did that as an alternative. I was not a natural at it, I always felt like a big lump compared to the skinnier girls and I didn't particularly like the dance teacher. I wasn't unhappy to give it up.

STAMP COLLECTING
I actually chose to collect stamps, believe it or not! I was a bit obsessed with it for a while and I absolutely loved buying a bag of stamps and sorting through them. I even went as far as to enter a stamp collecting competition! I know, you're probably wondering how you can even compete in stamp-collecting - I basically had to put together a little display of stamps on a theme, I think it was an Olympic theme. I'm not sure why I gave it up in the end but I did love it for a while. I don't know if I really admitted to people I was a stamp collector though!

WRITING
Inspired by Enid Blyton's boarding school books, I used to write tons of my own stories about boarding schools, despite having no experience of going to one. I started doing this really young and as a result I knew what a paragraph was and was using them way before the rest of my peers had been taught about them. I filled up so many jotters with my stories. I really wish I'd kept them so I could see just how bad they were!

GYMNASTICS
This was another extra curricular activity I was not particularly impressive at. I really just am not sporty at all. Or flexible. I could do a forward and backward roll (still can) and for a while (and after a lot of practice) I could do a cartwheel, but I was never destined to become the next Olga Korbut or Nadia Comaneci (who were the big gymnasts back then). Which I was sad about but also fairly pragmatic.

PIANO
One of my grans was a piano teacher so we ended up getting lessons from her when we visited there on a Sunday. I was never very good at it. I think I can play about four songs, and they're all relatively simple. In fact, I'm actually not sure if I can play them anymore, I'll need to break out the keyboard gathering dust in my boyfriend's house and see if I can! (I also played violin for a bit in school but I wouldn't say I set the world alight with that either!)

DRAMA
I literally went to the worst drama class in the world on a Saturday morning. It was awful. Actually, don't get me wrong, the class itself was okay and relatively good fun, and the tutors were nice. It was the end of year performances that were cringey as fuck. We were all dreadful. One year we did a sort of variety show and that turned out okay but any other performance I was in was just an utter embarrassment.

In addition to the above I also went to a recorder workshop, a cheerleader workshop and a series of circus workshops. You know you're jealous.

It's funny to look back on all these activities I used to do and compare it to what I do now. Despite my lack of skill at gymnastics, I do pole fitness these days. And struggle with it, but keep going. Perhaps because I chose to do it, rather than being told to do it. I still write, but mostly just on here. (I did write lots more stories as I grew up and fancied being a writer but I just don't think I'm good enough, or disciplined enough to work at being better on it). The only things I collect these days are nail polish, dresses that don't fit, and empty bottles of wine (which really need to be taken to the recycling bin.) And most of my extra-curricular activities involve a nice restaurant or bar!

Perhaps it's time I discovered a new hobby. In the meantime I might do some more work on my empty wine bottle collection . . . ;-)

What hobbies did you have as a kid? Have you kept any of them up?

Monday, 17 July 2017

LET'S TALK ABOUT INSTAGRAM STORIES . . .

Can we talk about Instagram Stories please?

Wait . . . it's my blog, I can talk about whatever I want so yes, we can talk about instagram stories! I'm going to talk about it and you're going to listen . . . I mean, read. Sorry, I got a bit aggressive there - please don't leave?!?


I am loving Instagram Stories at the moment. I love seeing other people's, and I love making my own. Here's why I think I love it so much.

First of all, while I wouldn't say my normal Instagram feed is all about showing My Very Best Self, I do tend to generally filter out the bad bits, unless I can use the bad bits to get laughs. If I can do that, then I'm all for including them. Anyway, I do tend to only want to use the nicest pictures on my regular feed. The best selfie of the seventy million attempts at a selfie I've taken, the least steamy picture of my dinner, the most beautiful picture of that clifftop view . . . I don't like half-assing it. I'm in it for likes, people!!!!

So one of the reasons I like Instagram stories is because it's almost like the outtakes of my regular feed. You're getting to see behind the feed and getting more of an insight into me! For example:

  • That picture of the view I posted from the edge of a cliff? You might see me on Instagram stories in the process of climbing up to that view, moaning about the fact the boyfriend always leaves me behind because I'm so slow he's so selfish.
  • Instead of that selfie, you'll see what I look like when I've just woke up. If you're interested, this can probably be best described as a bit of an Alice Cooper/Brian May hybrid.
  • Instead of the picture of my dinner, you might see me showing how I made the dinner - or the mess I've managed to make of the fella's kitchen in the process of making the dinner!
It's like Real World: Pollypoptart, when I stop being polite and start getting real.

I also like the filters. I don't have snapchat so I gotta get my filter fix somewhere. What kind of world do we live in when a girl can't virtually attach dog ears to her selfie?!?

If I don't have at least one instagram story running on my profile I feel a bit like I've went wrong somewhere in life. What was I doing the previous day that means I didn't manage to film some sort of instagram story??? I even managed to make trying to put all my DVDs back into their relevant cases into several thousand instagram stories once. Eventually I was so distracted by Instagram that I didn't actually finish the DVD sorting and they've been sitting in haphazard piles for about two and a half months now.

I also love the odd time someone will say to you "Oh that instagram story you did really made me laugh"- it's nice to know that someone has found your story funny, or agreed with what you were saying.

But here's the flip side of it . . . you can see everyone who has saw your story. With a normal instagram picture, you can see who likes your picture but you can't see who has all actually had it flash up in their feed. Seeing who has watched your instagram story is a bit creepy in a way. But mainly because you know they've watched it but they haven't necessarily commented on it . . . and you wonder what they all think of it, because let's face it, for every one person who says "I really liked that story you did", you've got like 100 other people who looked at it and haven't even mentioned it to you. And maybe they were just flicking past it, or not paying attention, or drunk at the time but . . . you don't know that!!! So I do find that kind of weird, personally - maybe it's just me?

For the moment though, Instagram Stories is definitely a wee addiction of mine. And if you aren't following me already, why not pop through and do so now???

How do you feel about Instagram Stories?

Friday, 14 July 2017

HOW TO BE A THOUGHTFUL FLATMATE . . .

Have you lived in a flatshare before? I did - for almost ten years. And in that time, I had absolutely TONS of flatmates of different ages, from different cultures and, on one occasion, even an older Chinese male student! The flat I lived in had six bedrooms so as you can imagine over that time there were tons of people moving in, then moving back out . . . and on one occasion moving back in again, so I have a lot of experience of living with other people. I used to talk about it a lot on here - well, more often than not, I would be ranting about it, if I'm honest.



I thought, however, that I might put my experience to good use with a little blog post about how to be a good flatmate! You are welcome. ;-)

1) BE KIND AND FRIENDLY
This one is really important. I'm not saying you have to be best pals with your flatmates (unless your flatmate actually is your best pal) but it doesn't do any harm to be nice, make conversation and get to know them if they're a stranger. At one point, for example, a couple of my friends moved into the flatshare, but we still went out of our way to include the other girls staying there if they wanted to join us for a drink or a meal. Years later, when my friends had been replaced with some girls I didn't know too well who were about ten years younger than me, they went out of their way to invite me to join them for a vegetarian roast and some wine. Sometimes, for me, it could be really difficult to make conversation with someone who I shared a roof with but didn't know too well and, to be fair, there were a couple of times I deliberately waited until no one was in the hallway before sneaking out because I could not face having to make conversation, but generally it's good to be on great terms with the people you are sharing space with so, if you can, make sure you do! Just don't, like, watch them sleep or anything crazy like that though...




2) DO YOUR DISHES
Now, this is one of my pet peeves. If you're living yourself, feel free to not do your dishes regularly. I certainly abide by that rule now I don't have flatmates, that's for sure. But when you're living with other people and sharing communal spaces, you need to clean up after yourself. I'm not saying you should be washing your pot before you actually eat your dinner, but don't leave dirty dishes lying around two days after you used them! I actually had one situation where a flatmate was leaving the country for a month and left her dirty dishes lying in the kitchen. It is really not cool and it's a known fact that other people's dirty dishes are always much grosser than your own. True story . . .

3) DON'T EAT OTHER PEOPLE'S FOOD WITHOUT ASKING
This really really really should go without saying, but it happens. When I'd not been in the flatshare very long back in the olden days, I had a packet of poppadoms in my food cupboard (we all had our own food cupboards). I had two poppadoms left in the box, and one day when I went into the cupboard to get something, I noticed that the box was empty. Someone had not only eaten the poppadoms without asking, they hadn't even disposed of the rubbish they had generated. Now, that's just rude. Oh, and that doesn't just apply to food . . . someone's boyfriend once "thoughtfully" ran them a bath but decided to use my nice bubble bath to do so. I was really not happy.




4) IF YOU WANT TO ADD SOMETHING TO A COMMUNAL AREA, PERHAPS CONSULT YOUR FLATMATES FIRST
Now, the reason I've added this to the list is because of one very specific incident that happened during my time in the flatshare. One of the girls decided to leave some sort of shoe storage facility out in the hallway one day, and kept all of her shoes (and her boyfriend's shoes, when he was there, which he was frequently) there. She had put it in a really awkward bit of the hallway, and she never asked anyone else if it was okay. Yeah, cos we all want a whiff of someone else's shoes. I'm sure, however, if you wanted to add something lovely like a giant TV to a communal area, no one would complain . . . unless they're anti-TV that is! ;-)

5) TAKE OUT THE RUBBISH SOMETIMES
If you're putting rubbish in the bin, you really should be taking your turn to take it outside. The amount of times I ended up having to do this myself was ridiculous, especially when I knew that I had hardly put anything in it. Occasionally people would get it as far as the doors and leave it between the door and the storm door too - if you're going to get it that far can you not just take it all the way to the bin?

6) TRY TO KEEP THE NOISE DOWN
Be a bit thoughtful around noise levels. It's one thing playing some music or having some friends around on a weekend night, but take into consideration the hours your flatmates keep too - maybe you work full time and they're a student or vice versa and they might be sleeping at different times from you. I used to have a flatmate who would have massively loud phone conversations at 6am on a Sunday morning (no idea who was on the other end) and she was right through the wall from me so it was very disruptive. Don't get me wrong, I'm not the phone police and if you want to phone someone at 6am on a Sunday morning, feel free, just try to lower the volume a bit?




7) BUY TOILET PAPER
The amount of times I would buy loo roll only to discover there wasn't any when I needed it was ridiculous. At one point we started a toilet roll fund and asked everyone to contribute so that we could buy communal roll for all. That didn't last long. At other times I ended up keeping toilet paper in my room and taking it with me when I needed the loo. This wasn't very practical because I didn't always remember! So the moral of the story is, buy toilet roll. Whether you leave it in the bathroom and let other people use it (and hopefully they'll take a turn at buying it too) or you squirrel it away in your room is up to you, but make sure you buy it!

8) PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH AND DON'T BE A HYPOCRITE
If you follow all the above rules, in my view you're going to be a pretty good flatmate. Don't slag other people off for not doing these things if you're not doing them yourself though. A notable example of this from my experience was a flatmate who actually agreed with me and another flatmate when we were moaning about the mess someone had left the kitchen in. It was more than 10 years ago now so I can't remember the exact words but it was along the lines of "Oh I know, it's ridiculous the mess they leave the place in, I always forget to tidy up after myself too but I agree it's ridiculous." Er - so surely she was basically saying she was in part responsible for the mess?!?

Have you ever shared a flat? Do you have any rules to add?

Thursday, 13 July 2017

FLIGHT PLAN . . . NO PLAN APPARENTLY!

Now I know the whole United Airlines debacle was a wee while ago now, but it brought back bad memories for me from last year and I've been meaning to talk about it on here for a wee while now. Now is as good a time as any I guess!



I was on a work trip to London with two colleagues, our plane tickets for a well known airline had been booked ages in advance . . . but on the way home, as I approached the gate with my boarding pass held out on my phone, it was scanned and the woman asked me to step to one side. Myself and two other people found ourselves being told there was no space for us on the flight. And no, these two people weren't my colleagues, they were two strangers who had also seemingly randomly been separated from their respective parties.

I wasn't given an explanation for this, and was put on a later flight . . . and I had to go through security again, which is without a doubt my least favourite part of the whole airport process! It was pretty obvious to me though it was due to them oversubscribing the flight, or deciding they didn't have enough demand for two planes and cancelling one of them. Even the way they dealt with it in the run-up to the gate being called was very sly, they obviously were hoping people wouldn't see the gate being called (we had been told it was late with no further information forthcoming for ages) so that they could put the blame on the customer for missing the flight.

I have been in situations with this company in the past where people I have been with have been offered compensation to voluntarily give up their flight due to the flight being overbooked, so I know they do this.  Maybe some people would have given up their seat voluntarily for money on this flight had they been asked - I wouldn't have personally as I had an actual reason I needed to get back to Glasgow as soon as possible, but perhaps there were other people on the flight that would. I know one of the other people left behind wouldn't have given up his flight either - he was in charge of a group of business guys heading up to Scotland to play golf, and he was absolutely RAGING to have been left behind. To the point where he nearly got into a fight with a member of staff. I don't really blame him. I was sitting in a corner myself trying not to cry, just wanting to know I definitely had another flight booked, and desperately wanting a glass of chenin to calm my jangled nerves and numb the fact that two of my superiors had saw me in a very upset state thanks to the behaviour of this particular company.

And, going back to United Airines, I've noticed they've said they will ensure that in future they don't remove people from oversubscribed flights . . . IF they are in their seat already.

I don't think that's really good enough. I wasn't in my seat already on my flight but I'd had a seat booked for weeks, I'd done my online check-in about ten hours before the flight, and most importantly, I was going on holiday the next day. If they hadn't been able to get me on a later flight and my holiday flight had been early the next day, I'd have been screwed. Add to the fact I'm a nervous flier at the best of times and have never been on a flight without people I know before, and you can imagine I was a bit of a wreck when I was informed I wasn't getting on the flight.

We all understand that flights have to get cancelled sometimes for various reasons. BUT don't sell too many seats on a flight knowing that you might have to bump people off it. Not everyone has the time to get a later flight, or go through the misery of not knowing what flight they might get. Just get it sorted.

The simple fact of the matter is this:  if you're providing a service, please don't do it half-assed. You're messing with people's lives here.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

PAYDAY BEHAVIOURS . . .

It's nearly payday for me.

I get paid mid-month and I've been skint since about a week after last payday. I tried to put myself on a budget so I wouldn't inevitably end up into my overdraft but I still seem to have spent an excessive amount of money on food, wine and nights out. If that's me when I'm trying to be good, then this is probably a good indication for you on how bad I am in that week between payday and the following week when I'm flat out broke. :-(


So anyway, here are some things I tend to do once I get paid.

1) If payday falls on a weekday, I'll treat myself to a nice breakfast and lunch. Because . . . it's payday! Usually this means cake for breakfast (lemon drizzle cake is practically a breakfast food anyway, right?) and something ridiculously greasy like mac and cheese or chips and cheese for lunch. Y'know, healthy stuff!

2) Speaking of actual healthy stuff, there may be a trip to Whole Foods or Holland & Barrett so I can buy things like coconut flour, or cacao, or apple cider vinegar . . . that I'll then mostly forget to use despite dropping thirty quid for approximately four items.

3) There needs to be at least one nice dinner out that first weekend after payday. Possibly two. And at least one takeaway. Because it's, like, the rules, okay?

4) I'll pay some money towards my credit card, obviously. If I'm feeling particularly decadent, I'll even pay more than the minimum amount.

5) This is also the time for me to buy the things I've been running out of since last payday. Like foundation, contact lens cleaner and shampoo. Yay, I can use generous amounts of these once again!

6) Online clothes shopping. Because, even though I told myself I wasn't going to buy any clothes until I lost some weight, it just so happened ASOS or Boohoo were having a 40% off moment that was expiring in twenty five minutes when I *accidentally* went online for a wee look.  And, since I just got paid, it's obviously meant to be, right?!?

7) And, of course, there has to be at least one wee cheeky overnight trip away and that obviously needs to be paid for. Which also tends to necessitate a dinner and drinks in the overnight locale . . . or, if we want to save money, a hotel picnic. The irony of which being that the picnic usually ends up coming from M&S and costs nearly the same amount as it would if we just ate out in the first place.

(Last time we had a night away (a couple of weeks ago), we decided we might as well find a hotel for the next night as well. And then, when we got back the following night, we needed to go out for dinner to cheer ourselves up because we were home!)

It may sound like I'm some sort of millionaire. I'm really not. I just like to think  I am for those couple of days right after I get paid. After that, I have no money and then I'm waiting once again for the next payday to roll around. It's quite the vicious cycle.

I'm hoping to break that cycle with this up-and-coming payday.

After I've booked a holiday abroad, obviously . . . and paid for an already booked trip to Devon.. And bought an electric toothbrush and possibly some new clothes . . .


How is your payday behaviour???

Saturday, 8 July 2017

P'S TOP PICKS: BEST CHICK-FLICKS!

I love a good chick-flick - and I've watched quite a lot of them. (And by "quite a lot", I mean "millions"). So I thought I'd share my favourites with you lot, cos I'm generous like that! It was a bit difficult to narrow it down to ten, but I needed to choose a number, so ten it is!


1) Clueless

Now, Clueless is not just my favourite chick-flick, it is actually my favourite film in the whole world! I went to see it at the cinema with a couple of my schoolfriends when it came out back in 1995 (I know!) and I've been in love with it ever since. The amazing Alicia Silverstone plays Cher Horowitz, a pampered teen with a heart of gold. The lines are witty, the nineties fashion is fabulous, Paul Rudd is in it, and it's a modern day take on Jane Austen's Emma. What's not to love?!? If you haven't watched it before, you need to. If you have watched it before, you should watch it again. I'm quite tempted to watch it right now actually. Maybe once I've finished this post.


2) Mean Girls

This is undoubtedly my second favourite chick-flick after Clueless, and is probably up there in my top ten favourite films too. I find it hard to believe that there's anyone out there who hasn't watched this at least once.... but then my pole instructor only saw it for the first time the other week so I've already been proved wrong about that. So in case you haven't saw it before . . . Lindsay Lohan plays Cady, a home-schooled teen who goes to actual school for the first time and finds herself entering a popular clique led by the queen of the school Regina. However, all is not what it seems and Cady finds herself a double-agent working to bring Regina down after she is stabbed in the back by her (metaphorically, I should stress). Written by the amazing Tina Fey (who also pops up in it), this is a great, funny and fairly accurate look at the stress of being a teenage girl trying to fit in and it's bloody brilliant!


3) 13 Going on 30

I do love a body swap comedy and while 13 Going On 30 isn't quite that (a thirteen year old teenager wishes she was 30 and wakes up in her own adult body ), it's got a lot of similar components. Jennifer Garner is fabulous as always in it and also they dance to "Thriller" which is one of my favourite dance scenes in a film and makes me want to learn the dance. I don't know if 13 year old me could have coped with waking up seventeen years later with no memory of the person I was and living in an adult world - I struggled just with gradually acclimatising to it. On top of that, Garner's character Jenna has to cope with the fact that she doesn't exactly like the person she has become in the time she has missed out on. It really is a great little film - cheesy, of course, but luckily I love cheese.... and what is a chick-flick really if it doesn't have a cholesterol-raising volume of cheese in it!


4) Girls Just Want To Have Fun

And speaking of cheese, you need,to watch Girls Just Want to Have Fun if you haven't already. It's an eighties dance movie starring Sarah Jessica Parker before she got good hair and style as a Catholic schoolgirl with a strict dad who won't let her enter a televised dance contest. Luckily, her new friend in school, played by a young Helen Hunt, is a bit of a rebel and encourages her to do it behind his back. Full of cheesy eighties type songs, ridiculous hair and outfits, a good looking guy from the wrong side of the tracks (because no eighties dance film would be complete without one of those) and a deb ball that goes very wrong in a brilliant way, this is a must-watch as far as I'm concerned.

5) How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Now, yes, it seems contrived from the outset. Girl meets boy, girl is trying to write an article about scaring a man off in ten days based on typical "girl" behaviour and the boy in question just so happens to be trying to get a girl to fall in love with him in that exact same amount of time. What are the chances of them meeting each other?!? Well, there is a good reason that throws them together, and Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey are just brilliant in this - particularly Kate.

6) Pretty Woman

I remember when this first came out, I was in primary school - someone asked me if I knew what a prostitute was and I had to admit I didn't, much to my ten/eleven year old shame (Now I'm probably quite happy I had that level of innocent back then...). Anyway, Pretty Woman is about a prostitute and a guy who pays her . . . it is actually far less sordid than it sounds and I'm sure everyone must have watched this film at least once so I'm not going to say any more about it. Apart from the fact that Julia Roberts is absolutely incredible in it, and Richard Gere used to be so bloody handsome it's not even funny.

7) Legally Blonde

Elle Woods is basically the Cher Horowitz of the noughties - when her boyfriend breaks up with her she decides she'll go to the same law school as him to win him back . . . she manages to get accepted, much to his surprise but she is immediately out of her depth. However, Elle is not going to go down without a fight. An absolutely stellar performance from Reese Witherspoon as Elle. (On a side note, I didn't really like the sequel. But the original is definitely a top ten chick flick choice.)


8) Bridget Jones's Diary

I have to admit, back when it was first announced Bridget Jones's Diary was to become a film, I was dubious. I'm generally not a big fan of books being turned into films ("Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter" aside) and I had absolutely loved the book . . . AND when it turned out that Renee Z was going to be Bridget I was even more disapproving. But I literally can't imagine anyone else in the role now . . . she is amazing in the role, and the whole film is just fantastic from start to finish.


9) Death Becomes Her

I just re-watched this the other night actually, and it is still as brilliant (and a bit bonkers) as ever. Madeleine (Meryl Streep) steals her friend Helen's (Goldie Hawn) man (played by an almost unrecognisable Bruce Willis), and years later they are in a thoroughly unhappy marriage, while she is becoming more and more insecure about her ageing looks. When they meet a now successful and amazing looking Helen once again, all of Madeleine's insecurities come rushing to the surface and she ends up taking a potion to make her young forever. However, it has side effects that she could never have anticipated. This is a cheesy, overacted, and hilarious film . . . and the actors must have all had so much fun making it.

10) The Other Woman

The newest one on my list, this is actually the last film I saw at the cinema. Cameron Diaz has just met the man of her dreams . . . unfortunately she hasn't realised he is already married to Leslie Mann. They strike up an unlikely friendship only discover that there is yet another woman in the relationship! This is full of hilarious moments, an absolutely incredible comic performance from Mann, and one of the best comeuppances EVER. It's already been on the tv a couple of times, so if you see it pop up in the listings, you should definitely give it a wee shot.



What are YOUR favourite chick-clicks? I'd love to know!

Monday, 26 June 2017

CURRENT IRRITATIONS . . .

One thing you might know about me is that I love a good rant. If you don't know this about me, you've possibly never met me and you've definitely never read my blog. So I figured it was about time I had another little mini-moan about the things that have been annoying me of late. So let's get going, shall we?!?



1) Dresses that zip up the back
Ah . . . where do I start? Dresses with zips at the back are a friggin' nightmare. I've always firmly maintained that they're a nightmare if you're single or just living alone as a lot of the time you have to be a contortionist to actually twist your arm the right way to get the zip from A to B. Another time they're a nightmare? Changing rooms. Recently I took three dresses into a changing room while the fella waited outside in the main shop. He must have been waiting for me for about half an hour, as it took me so bloody long to get them zipped, then unzipped. One of them actually broke while it was on me, and I thought I was stuck in it. (Luckily when I finally got it up and rezipped it, it was suddenly working fine again.) I left that cubicle a changed woman: a stressed, sweaty, utterly broken woman. Still bought two of the dresses, mind. Kinda felt like we'd bonded.

2) Coach Trip
I normally love watching E4 while I get ready for work in the morning. Unfortunately, the recent re-runs of Coach Trip are ruining this for me. I'm pretty sure for the last couple of months they've been putting on Coach Trip: Road to Ibiza, then once that ends, they're putting on the re-run of Coach Trip: Road to Marbella . . . then going back to the Ibiza one. And I don't get it. I don't think it's interesting, I don't think it's funny, I don't get the point of it and . . . I JUST WANT MY EARLY MORNING EPISODES OF CHARMED BACK, DAMMIT!

3) My hair going curly overnight
I can go to bed having blow-dried my hair straight, followed by a quick session with the straighteners . . . only to wake up looking like Monica Geller in Barbados. Seriously, you do end up wondering why you even bother! I have naturally wavy hair but it's not that wavy so I really don't understand why this happens. Ironically if I leave my hair to dry naturally and go to bed like that it has almost exactly the same effect and my hair still looks shit and then requires even more straightening the next morning. Basically I think my only solution is to just not sleep! (Which, actually happens frequently and, now that I come to think of it, actually makes feck all difference to the state of my hair.)


via GIPHY

4) The timing of good weather
Since Scotland rarely gets nice, sunny weather, it would be really good if it coincided with the days I am not in the office. Rather than being nice until I have the day off then pissing it down. Even more annoyingly, when we were in Lanzarote in May, the weather was nice the whole time we were away. We were away eleven nights, from the Sunday until the following Thursday. The weather was nice THAT WHOLE TIME, starting on the Sunday. And then started to break upon our return. By the Saturday it was pissing it down. Now, I know I was in Lanzarote and it was sunny and I shouldn't complain, but couldn't the weather have waited a week and a half to get nice and then started upon my return to Scotland? IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK, EH??? (probably.)

What's currently annoying you?

Thursday, 22 June 2017

BLOGGER'S BLOCK? MAYBE I CAN HELP . . .

Are you experiencing a dose of blogger's block? Trust me, I know all about this. I'm so blocked at the moment that the very thought of even writing this post is exhausting me, but I'm going to do it anyway, because these type of posts from others have helped me on many an occasion, and I'm hoping by posting this I can pay it forward a bit. While perhaps indulging in a bit of shameless self-promotion at the same time and directing you to some of my posts you may have missed in the past....

But mostly the "pay it forward" part, of course! ;-)


1) Posts about blogging. Now, maybe this is weird, but I do enjoy reading blog posts that are actually about blogging itself. I enjoy reading posts about the positive sides of blogging as well as the pitfalls. Why not give these a try yourself? If you're actually pretty web-savvy, maybe you could even do some sort of tutorial giving advice on how others can improve their blogs. I've learned a lot from other people who do posts along those lines!

2) Reviews - whether that's of your latest restaurant visits, a book you've adored or loathed, or perhaps even a new pastel hair dye that you have had experience with, people are always searching for reviews on certain products - maybe your experience will help them!

3) Tell us more about the area you live in. I did this with my tongue-in-cheek guide to Scottish-ness many moons ago, and I continue to try and sell my country to all with my regular(ish) Scotland the Beautiful series. Showcasing some of Scotland's natural beauty can be a godsend to me when I'm stuck for writing inspiration . . .and, as an added wee bonus, it encourages me to get out and about!

4) Do you have an amazing recipe to share with everyone? You should! And even if you don't have one of your own, have you been cooking your way through a recipe book, or Pinterest recently? Why not write about the best recipes you have tried and what you thought of them (favourite pasta recipes for example? Giving full credit obviously!

5) Do you get annoyed easily? I do, and I love a good rant about it - it really does help to get it out! I do love a "how to annoy me in a . . ." post myself and I love to read about others' pet peeves too. You could write about the things that annoy you in an office, for example, or while you're on holiday.

6) We've all had an embarrassing moment with someone we fancied, right? Why don't you share one of your embarrassing moments? Can you one-up the time I chased a guy around the Duke of Wellington statue in Royal Exchange Square asking him if I had boring boobs???

7) Speaking of lurve, most of us have had heartbreak in our lives at one point or another - do you have any lessons you have learned from a break-up (or in my case, tons of break-ups!)? I found writing a post about this really therapeutic  . . . and it was a post that resonated with so many people at the time, I felt like it actually helped others too!

8) Social media - what are your pros and cons of the various social media platforms? What annoys you about facebook? Can you think up any example of Tweets you hope never to see? Or maybe you actually barely use social media at all apart from blogging and want to tell us why. There's so much inspiration can be drawn from sites like Instagram and Twitter. I think I've posted tons about social media, from so many angles over the last few years. It's certainly something I, as well as probably most people reading this post, have tons of experience of, and it's so interesting to both write and read about!

9) Do you have a TV show you're obsessed with? Maybe you can base some posts around this! In my case, I am a massive "Friends" fan so I've been inspired by this show on several different occasions on my blog. And I'm pretty sure I still have several posts to come on it. (Sorry not sorry.)

10) Speaking of "Friends" (see, I'm obsessed!), do you remember the laminated list of 5 women Ross was allowed to sleep with? Who would be on your laminated list? Or which five people would you invite to your dream dinner party?

11) Do you have an unusual hobby or go to a class that others might be interested in hearing about? You could tell us about that. One day I will get around to posting more about my pole fitness classes, I will I will I will.

12) Reality TV - there's tons of posts that can be done about this, whether you actually watch it or not! For example, I like to post about why I couldn't star on shows like The Apprentice, or Big Brother, or Come Dine With Me, but once again, there are so many angles that could be covered. Why do you hate it, why do you love it, have you ever been on it yourself? Now I would REALLY love to hear more about that last one!

13) Are you online shopping for an outfit for a special occasion, a swimsuit for the pool, or a passport holder for your holiday? Why not share your search with your blog readers?

14) Or on a similar vein, maybe you can produce a gift guide? One I was looking for recently online, for example, was ideas for a present for a lifestyle blogger - so if you wanted to do one of them, that would go down very well with me! Or, how about an anti-gift guide? Every so often I like to check out some of my favourite gift websites and trash-talk some of the ideas on there. I'm sure one man's trash really is another man's treasure though.... And also . . . how about hand-made gifts? I love a wee DIY gift tutorial!

15) What's your favourite holiday destination? Why not sell it to us?

16) Has technology ever ruined something old-skool for you?

17) Is there anything you're really bad at? Or loads of things? Or how about a list of things you can't pull off? Similarly, if you've got some mad skills, why not share these with us?

18) Some sort of topical piece. Sometimes I get an idea from a headline I just happen to see while I'm browsing online. Which could be anything, from my name becoming extinct, to a rant about Katie Hopkins.

19) How about some random facts about yourself that we might not know?

20) I love reading about dieting (like I said, I'm a weirdo) - do you have experience of different diets, a disastrous experience on one, a successful one you'd recommend, or a guide of how to stick to one? I'd love to hear more about it and I'm sure loads of other people would too!

21) And last but not least, why not do a post about blog post ideas? Even if you're blocked yourself, you may have loads of good ideas for others that you've posted about in the past!


I hope I've been of some help if you are looking for blog inspiration, and if you have any ideas of your own feel free to share. And if I have helped to inspire you with a post I'd love to read it!

Monday, 5 June 2017

P'S 2017 READING CHALLENGE . . . PART THREE!

So it's time to continue on with the reading challenge . . .  mainly because I still need to catch up with myself due to my holiday reading frenzy! (It's worth noting I have now been back for nearly three weeks - already?!? - and my reading has once again slowed riiiiiight down.)



So what are the next five books on my list?

11) Ella's Ice Cream Summer - Sue Watson

This was a gorgeous little read and I didn't want it to end. When Ella's aunt dies, she is shocked to discover she has been left something in her will - however it is not the family ice cream parlour as she had secretly hoped; rather it is the ancient ice cream van part of the business. She is unsure what to do since she has a life elsewhere - but fate conspires to bring her back to Devon, where she spent many summers as a kid with her aunt and glamorous cousin Gina, and she decides to try and make a success of the ice cream van business, with the hopes that perhaps Gina will at some point let her buy the ice cream parlour.

I really loved this book, it had me hooked from the outset. I loved the character of Ella, and her mother was absolutely fabulous and a comedy masterpiece, if a little over-opinionated and over-bearing at times. My favourite character, however was probably Delilah the Pomeranian - I'm sure I'm not alone in this!
I felt this was set up all along to be a bit of a series and although I'm generally more of a fan of a stand-alone novel I am definitely keen to read more from the world of Appledore! Highly recommended - a delicious read without any calories! 10/10


12) Mermaid Hair and I Don't Care - C.J. Morrow

Another great book, this one featured Lily - Lily is hoping for a big promotion in work (and if she doesn't get it, she's probably going to lose her job, so that's a pretty big incentive!) and she also thinks she and her boyfriend are about to properly commit to each other. Turns out he's planning to go on holiday without her actually . . . the following day. So she heads off on holiday with her friend instead, and ends up having a bit of a holiday fling. The understanding is that this fling, no matter how they feel, cannot last longer than the holiday . . . however fate might have other ideas in mind!

I really enjoyed this book, not as much as I enjoyed books 10 and 11, but I was very invested in what happened with Lily and really interested to know how the book turned out and if she was going to get her happy ending. 7/10


13) Break-Up Club - Lorelei Mathias

Wouldn't it be kinda great if all of your friends were single at the same time and could support each other after a break-up? That's pretty much the premise of this book - Holly and her friends, who have all just came out of relationships, form a club to support one another through their respective break-ups. And we get to see all of their progress as they try to move on with their life and get over their exes, not always successfully.

I am not unfamiliar to a break-up, and I'm sure most of you are the same - this was a pretty accurate portrayal of the whole horrible process, and as the characters were all very likeable it was easy to identify with them all and their situation. 7/10


14) How To Find Your (First) Husband - Rosie Blake

Did you ever "marry" someone in the school playground when you were a little kid? I certainly didn't, but Isobel did. She and Andrew were "married" for a week at school until he left her for another girl. Most people would have forgotten about this, but over the years Isobel has became a tad obsessed that her and Andrew, as adults, are meant to be together. So she heads back to England from her home in LA to try and find him . . . this however leads her to a tropical island in Malaysia of all places, where she attempts to locate the guy she feels she is destined to be with.

This was also a great book, so readable and really funny in a lot of places. Isobel got herself into quite a few scrapes, and the ensemble of characters was just fantastic. Plus I really kinda want to go to this Malaysian island now - it sounded AMAZING! 9/10


15) Some Girls Do - Clodagh Murphy

What do you do if you are about to be caught in a lie? Claire is behind an extremely popular sex blog and she could be about to get a book deal out of it . . . however she's hiding something. Mainly that she's not very sexually experienced and the blog's content is complete fiction! How can she get out of this one, particularly when she is falling for the potential publisher of her book? Simple - she'll ask new acquaintance Luca if he can teach her everything he knows about sex!

Except is it ever going to be simple??? This was a really interesting read - as a blogger myself, albeit not a sex blogger, it's a useful reminder that people online aren't always what they seem - Claire's "mummy blogger" friend was another prime example of this. I was also curious to find out if Claire's secret would be exposed or not. Another great book from Clodagh Murphy! 8/10


So that's all for now! Expect another reading challenge update soon . . . although I have a couple more books to read until I make it to book 20 - halfway through my challenge! I'm still on course at the moment so hopefully I can make it there before the end of June.

I'd love to know what you've all been reading?

Saturday, 3 June 2017

WHY I DON'T HAVE A NICHE . . .

Once upon a time, back in the dark ages when I first started this blog, I was most definitely a personal blogger. I used it more as a diary than anything else. And then somewhere along the line, I changed into more of a lifestyle blogger. I don't think I'm a particularly good lifestyle blogger though, I don't really know what I'm doing most of the time because of the way I just morphed from the personal blogging into this current incarnation of my blog.


Sometimes I wonder if I need to find more of a niche, but I think I've ruled out most niches I could potentially do. Let's have a somewhat tongue-in-cheek look at why I couldn't be a niche blogger . . .


Fashion blogger? No.
I pretty much always wear the same clothes, I'm really bad at posing for photos and I don't really take any fashion risks. Although maybe that would be a good niche within an niche? Fashion blogger who has no idea about fashion? I suppose it could work!


Beauty blogger? No.
I've mentioned before I struggle to blend my eyeshadow, my eyebrows are never symmetrical, I only own about five make-up brushes and, until about three months ago, I didn't realise most people don't blend their foundation in with their fingers. I feel I've learned some stuff from beauty blogs, but I'm not sure I myself have any proper wisdom I could impart upon others . . .


Fitness blogger? Definitely no.
My body is seemingly incapable of doing a burpee. The gym scares me, I can't run for shit, and roughly 70% of the time I attempt a lunge I end up with a sore knee. I also basically stop exercising as soon as I get a tiny bit out of breath. I would be the worst fitness blogger ever.


Travel blogger? No.
I love travelling and I do enjoy sharing details of my travels on my blog. But I don't think I could do this all the time. There's a reason I only do my Scotland the Beautiful posts once in a while and it's mainly because I'm lazy and I feel like it takes me longer to write these posts up and add the pictures too. And although my phone camera is really good, and I generally think my pictures look good, compared to actual travel bloggers they're definitely not up to par.


Book blogger? No.
I love reading and also reading about books - I'm a big fan of a book blog. But I don't feel like I generally read enough these days to maintain a book blog. My recent reading challenge has resulted in me reading more than I have in the past couple of years and blogging more about reading too. But I would struggle to keep up with the reading and the blogging about the reading.


Food blogger? No.
Ah . . . food. Like cooking it, love eating it. Writing about it makes me hungry though. And since I'm constantly trying to lose weight, it is not a good idea for me to spend a lot of time writing about it! I think if I was going to find a niche though I would ultimately like to be a food blogger. Maybe one day . . .


Am I missing any niches here? Do you feel like you have a niche or are you happy just to have a bit of a mix in your blog?

Thursday, 1 June 2017

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: THAT TIME I TRIED TO CLIMB BEN A'AN . . .

Ben A'an had been on my to-do list for some time. It was on my to-climb list as well - yes, I genuinely do have one of those. It was not too high, and it had good views of Loch Achray and Loch Katrine. I imagined it would be a difficult climb, but it wouldn't take too long, so how hard could it actually be?!?



I really need to stop underestimating things, don't I?

When you read things like "relatively easy by hillwalking standards", this does not actually mean easy. Especially when you're nowhere near peak condition.

And that pun in the previous sentence was completely unintentional - but actually pretty fitting since I actually didn't make it to the peak of this particular mountain!


A picture from very early on in the climb - I was already knackered!!!
 

Ben A'an, despite its fab views, is not a Munro, or even particularly high. It's actually described as a "mountain in miniature" - which makes it sound far cuter than reality dictates. We decided to head there early last month, on an unexpectedly warm Saturday afternoon. By the time we got there, after being stuck in the middle of some sort of long distance cycling race for what seemed like forever, the car park was stowed and there were people all over the place!

I have to admit at that point I was secretly hoping we wouldn't find a space and we could just forget about the whole climbing idea (which, I should add, had been my idea!) but the fella very inconveniently managed to get us parked. (How rude.)

Parking paid for, we crossed the road (the car park is very conveniently right next to the hill) and started to climb.

Everything I had read about Ben A'an had told me that the climb starts straight away, steep from the outset. For some reason I had chosen to ignore this and the fact I was already out of puff within the first minute or two of the walk was very infuriating to me. Then it was straight onto a set of steps. I was already absolutely knackered. The fella was already way ahead of me as well. (Selfish.)


Not too high up at this point, but the view of Loch Achray is pretty special.


I never quite recovered from that first stretch of slope. Even on the occasions when the path levelled out and I had time to catch my breath, I just felt absolutely knackered. Looking back, however, I could see some amazing views, and I had to just keep telling myself "it'll be worth it for the view at the top".


Cute little bridge. I liked it cos it was flat.

I just couldn't make it in the end though. My mind defeated me, and I just couldn't do the last bit of climb, no matter how much I told myself I wanted to see that view, and I wanted a picture of myself up there too. No matter how "Instagrammable" that picture would have been. Instead I sat on a rock and wheezed while my heartbeat slowed down, hoping not too many people could hear me, then we headed back the way we came.


If you make it to the top you can see both Loch Achray and Loch Katrine. Since I did NOT make it to the top this was my only view of Loch Katrine during the walk. (I think)


Minor annoyances were the little kids who made it to the top that day. (I later jealously looked at someone's picture on instagram of their three year old, who had coped better with the mountain than I had and had reached the summit.) The major annoyance were the random family on the last stretch of steps on the way down who basically started, for no reason, running down the steps behind us, which stressed me out no end as I am not good with people effectively chasing me when I had wobbly legs from the climb and WAS WALKING DOWN A STEEP HILL, FFS! They eventually pushed past and the dad nearly fell over in the process. I kinda wish he had. Wanker. There should be fines for people who behave like selfish arseholes on hills. Or I should be allowed to push them over. Either or.

I'm sad I never made it to the top though. I still want to do it. Maybe this time I'll be a bit more prepared for the actual hard work it takes to climb. And maybe definitely I'll try to do it on a day that isn't a weekend or a public holiday when there aren't quite as many kids taunting me purely by their ability to make it to the summit when I can't.


The peak of Ben Venue, Ben A'an's tougher neighbour. Probably won't make it up that one either.

If you haven't been up Ben A'an (and aren't scared of a bit of hard work to do it) then I'd definitely recommend it. Maybe I'll even see you at the top? (Probably on Instagram when I don't make it there myself again...)


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

ON "BLOGGER BLOCK" . . . A.K.A. WHY I'M REALLY BAD AT POSTING . . .

Once again, I haven't posted for a couple of weeks.

I'm not going to apologise for it because that makes it sound like I actually think people are waiting with bated breath to see my next post appear in bloglovin (well, all 66 of you subscribed to my feed anyway - feel free to join them if you haven't already, eh?)



It's actually quite hilarious (in a distinctly unfunny way) that as I popped into blogger to open a new post, I glanced at my list of drafts and noticed I had one entitled "Bloggers Block? Maybe I Can Help". It was quite laughable really given that I have been suffering from it myself recently. And I haven't actually written that aforementioned post yet. Bahahahahaha.

(I'll maybe wait a couple more weeks before I write that particular post. Just so the sweet stench of irony can clear up a bit first...)

So I regularly get "blogger block". I'm sure I'm not alone here, right? (Please tell me I'm not.) I seriously admire people who can post every single day, or even several times a week regularly, because I just can't seem to keep that momentum going, and it's like I just get some sort of blogger burn-out if I try too hard to post on the regular.

So this is what tends to happen to me . . .

Very occasionally, I have a day to myself, with no plans, and I commit myself to sitting down and writing a few posts. I tell myself that this is my chance to get organised - I will finally have a ton of posts scheduled and while those posts are still waiting to be published, I'll get even more written up. I will be The Girl Who Is On Top Of Her Blog (TM) finally, the readers will flock to me and comment in their droves, and I'll be a PR person's dream and . . . then I wake up.

But yeah, sometimes I do manage to get a few posts ready to go. It usually takes me a while. Like maybe I planned to do five posts, and I only do three. But, y'know, I feel accomplished. I've actually set myself a goal and mostly achieved it. And the only way is up from here. I still have tons of ideas, and I just need to be a bit more focussed and not get distracted by googling ridiculously random things like how all the old Hollywood greats died. (True story.)

So fast forward a couple of days and those scheduled posts have all published . . . and I'm on my laptop browsing through every single dress on  asos rather than actually writing any more posts. (By the way, do you pronounce it AS-os or AY-sos? I pronounce it the first way because it was "AS seen on screen" originally but I seem to be in the minority and when I told a girl who complimented by dress last week that it was from Asos, she thought I said "Argos" and it was all very confusing and a tad embarrassing. But, once again, I digress.)

So then I think "I really really need to write a post, this is getting ridiculous, but first, let me check Boohoo and see if they have got any new dresses in since the last time I checked two days ago."

And after I've exhausted Boohoo, any other clothes website I can think of, had a little side trip off to Amazon to buy some more books for my Kindle even though I still have seventy million books I've still to read already on there, checked Facebook to see if I've missed anything in the last ten minutes, spent twenty minutes composing a pithy tweet for Twitter that I'm sure will get re-tweeted loads, uploaded a picture to Instagram, checked Facebook again, checked Twitter to see if aforementioned pithy tweet has been retweeted yet (no. People just clearly do not get my humour), and then ended up in some slideshow of what happened to all of the stars from some 90s TV show . . . I'll turn my attention back to the window opened to Blogger, and click the list app on my phone for inspiration to strike.

I have a massive list of blog post ideas and I add to them on the regular. As soon as something pops into my head, I open my wunderlist app and stick my idea in there, adding to the huge pool of post ideas I already have. However, there's one problem here. I STILL don't always remember what the post was meant to be about!! 

For example, I have one that just says "google". That's it. "Google." What about google??? What was my great idea? More recently, I have one that says "would I lie to you" - I asked the boyfriend "do you have any idea what this post idea was? Was it the TV show?" He suggested it might be the 90s Charles And Eddie song. It could very well be - Heart FM play it all the time and I'm sick to death of it. But surely I couldn't make my dislike of that song into a whole post?? It's barely reaching anecdote status in this post.

Granted, there are some really good ideas, in my opinion anyway, on my list . . . the problem is that a lot of the time I can't force myself to write the post, as enthusiastic as I may feel about the topic. I have to wait until I'm in the mood to write that particular post.

But wait . . . I've not read any other blogs in a while! Surely I should go and catch up with my fellow bloggers before I write a new post? I open up bloglovin and realise I have approximately 300 or so posts to catch up on (I follow a lot of people on there.). This is going to take a while . . .

After that, it's time to check facebook and twitter again (still no retweet action on my amazing tweet, seriously???), then I should probably check my email . . . oh, and what's for dinner tonight? I should probably look at Pinterest for some inspiration . . . and that's me for the night, once I've fallen down the Pinterest rabbit hole there's no escape.

So . . . repeat the above process over and over, for days, with the odd point where I actually manage to snap out of it and get a post written and published (very rarely) . . . until the point where I have a day off and grand plans to get a few posts written up and scheduled for publishing. And this time it's going to be different, this time I'm going to stay on top of things, this time I am going to be The Girl Who Is On Top Of Her Blog (TM).

Hmmm... well this is post one of the day . . . and I'm already feeling quite tired. :-/


Can anyone else identify???

Monday, 15 May 2017

P'S 2017 READING CHALLENGE . . . PART TWO!!!

So when I last posted about my challenge for 2017 to read 40 books, it was the end of March and I had read a grand total of . . . 5. But then I went on holiday for a week and a half and read . . . well, quite a few more. I don't know what it is about holidays but feeling so relaxed just helps me breeze through books in a way I just can't do at home!


Anyhow, I'm going to stick to my previous format and only post five at a time, but you may get a couple of instalments of this type of post in a much shorter space of time than last time . . . be warned!


6) Mad Love - Nick Spalding

In this book, a dating website decide to create publicity for themselves by matching up and marrying off two of their clients . . . even though they've never even been on a date before. Thanks to the little white lies that some people tell online, the new couple actually couldn't be any more unalike. But can they make their relationship work anyway?

I first read a Nick Spalding book back when I first got a kindle and really enjoyed it - this was no different. His books are hilarious, and some of the scenarios his characters end up in are just so cringily funny and out-there that you've got to wonder "has he actually dreamed up these himself . . . or have they happened to him?!?" 7/10


7) Sunbaked - Junie Coffey

I recently signed up to NetGalley and this was the first book I read from there. This was just before I went on holiday so as the book had a lovely island setting the plot really appealed to me. Nina, on a drunken whim one night, decides to buy a little house on the island of Pineapple Cay . . . and goes through with it and actually moves there! Pineapple Cay sounds like an idyllic little place, although she finds herself up against the local property bully/tycoon who wants her land, within minutes of landing. And then the tycoon's wife goes missing in mysterious circumstances and Nina somehow ends up drawn into this mystery.

It was a gentle but readable book, and I did enjoy it, it had just enough intrigue and interesting characters to keep me turning the pages and want to know what was going to happen. 6/10


8) Luckiest Girl Alive - Jessica Knoll

From the outside, Ani seems to have the perfect life - amazing magazine job, sweet fiancΓ© . . . but she's hiding a past that was definitely not so perfect. But she's about to take part in a documentary about one of the incidents from her past, which brings a lot back to the surface.

When browsing books for my holiday on amazon, I came across the plot for this novel and it intrigued me which is why I bought it, rather than the fact amazon lauded it as a psychological thriller. I wouldn't have put it into my bracket myself personally but then I don't read a lot of books described as psychological thrillers so perhaps this is why. I breezed through this book in less than a day on holiday and, as past events unfolded, found it almost impossible to put down. 8/10


9) White Lies - Emily Harper

This is a fun story about Natalie, who decides she's sick of waiting for Mr Right to come to her and she is going to come to him instead . . . so she places a dating ad and waits for a variety of . . . well, losers to appear. In the meantime, she is worrying about her job as gorgeous Oliver has just been brought in by her company to make some changes . . . but could she be worrying about nothing here?

To me, it was pretty much obvious from the outset how the book was going to end but the journey was still fun and kept me reading. I wasn't a big fan of the letters she wrote to the man of her dreams at the start of each chapter, I found that part a bit overly cheesy (and, if you know me at all, you know how much I normally love a cheeseboard), but overall I loved the book. 7/10


10) One Italian Summer - Keris Stainton

Milly, her two sisters and her mum, who are all still struggling with the death of their dad, go to Italy for a family wedding. And Milly is very much aware that Luke is going to be there...who she hasn't seen since an embarrassing moment at her father's funeral. The location in Italy seemed idyllic and, was I not reading this on holiday, I would probably have been very jealous - it just sounded like the perfect place to go for a holiday and a wedding. The characters were great, the family were all very likeable and I feel like you get to know the three sisters really well and root for them to all find their happy ending. I have to admit I wasn't sure about Luke at first but he definitely grew on me.

This book (another one I had acquired through Netgalley) in turn made me laugh and made me cry, and kept me turning the pages (or flicking the down button on my kindle which doesn't quite have the same ring to it!) all the way through. I didn't want to put it down and I was sad when it ended...which is always a sign of a good book in my opinion! 10/10


So that's all for now . . . but expect another post or two around the challenge up very very soon!!!

What have you been reading recently?

Friday, 12 May 2017

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF ME... ON HOLIDAY!

Ah, how I love being away on holiday. And I was on holiday until yesterday when I came home (cries) although on the upside I'm not back at work until next Tuesday so at least I have some time to readjust to normality. Let's not think of that yet though. I thought instead I would have a wee chat about a typical day for me when I'm away on one of my sunshine holidays...


7.30-8.30am
I always tend to wake up early when I'm abroad, earlier than I would at the weekend when I'm at home. I usually spend this time before the fella wakes (he doesn't have my waking early problem!) catching up on social media on my phone, or reading.

9-10am
At some point I'll start getting ready for poolside, with the aim of being out by ten. This usually involves putting on and discarding at least one piece of swimwear before putting on my favourite bikini AGAIN (at least my strap marks will be the same, right?), and then getting my SPF on, a necessary but tedious evil. I usually need to juice up my phone too since there is rarely a socket anywhere near my bed and I've drained my battery catching up on aforementioned social media! πŸ˜‚

10am
Now we're outside and trying to find a sunlounger that doesn't already have a person or a towel (grrrr!) on it. Oh and it needs to hopefully be away from other humans, particularly loud ones, and have sun on it for most of the day. I don't ask for much eh? I get out my essentials: more suncream, kindle, phone, insect repellant just in case, and get to loungin'.

12.30ish
Around about this time, weather permitting, I like a wee dip in the pool. This usually involves me spending about ten minutes inching myself into the water followed by about five minutes of actually swimming. Once I've dried off I usually want a break from the sun so will head inside.

1.30
Lunchtime. I've usually not had breakfast so starving by this point! This usually involves some sort of fresh bread accompanied by cheese and meat. Possibly a wee sangria or other fruity alcoholic beverage too... but more often than not it will be a Pepsi or (if I've managed to track it down abroad) some Diet Irn Bru!

2.00
At this point, the afternoon can go several ways. It could involve me going and sitting out on the balcony for an hour or two, going for some sort of walk... or just deciding to get ready early for the evening and then heading to a pub for some pre-dinner drinking! I could also go to the gym... but I never do. Although I did use an outdoor gym down near the beach one day en route to the pub. But that was mainly so I could film some funny boomerangs for Instagram stories so I'm not sure that counts...

5.00
If I choose to spend the afternoon chilling on the balcony, then I'll start getting ready around about five-ish.  Shower, fix hair, do make-up. Try on and discard several outfits.  (Does anyone else find they take back half the contents of their suitcase unworn?) Ready!

6.30ish
Head out. Spend lots of time just walking around in circles trying to decide where to go, end up going with the age-old classic of choosing a place and then PRETENDING to look at the menu outside until someone comes over to try and entice us in. Ha, fooled you suckers, we were coming in anyway... we just wanted you to fight for us. Order starters... despite saying we were only going to get mains. Because starters are literally the best thing about food ever and don't even argue with me about it because shhh.

7.30ish
Struggle to eat main because I had a starter. D'uh. But when they clear my plate away and offer me the option of dessert, it's hard to say no...

8.30ish
Head back to apartments via the supermarket so we can stock up on juice, booze and bread for the next day's lunch. I usually opt for cava if we're in Spain as it's ridiculously cheap. If we're lucky, we then get a nice sunset to capture on camera for Instagram purposes.

9.30ish
Find something to watch on the TV, this can be a challenge as the English speaking channels can be few and far between. I feel like we end up watching a lot of Van Damme movies, oddly. πŸ˜‚ Settle down with cava and Milka chocolate (isn't it the best?) and head to bed when all the goodies are gone, ready to repeat all over again the next day...

So that's a day in the life of me on holiday. I already miss the feeling. To the point where I got home at 8ish last night and was already looking up holidays by 10pm...

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

20 FACTS ABOUT . . . P!!!

A bit of a lazy post today but I'm very much aware I haven't posted in a couple of weeks and as I'm currently in Lanzarote it will be another while before I can sit down at my laptop.

But anyway, I was tagged on instagram a couple of weeks ago to produce a twenty facts about me post by the lovely Dawn, which I did because I love things like that. And I thought, since I know not everyone who reads my blog now has ALWAYS read my blog, it might be nice to post it on here too just so you know a bit more about me. And if you are one of the few who has been reading my blog for a looonnng time, then it's a wee refresher session for you! What can I say, I'm nice like that.  ;-) So here goes!



1. I can juggle. (I went to a couple of circus workshops when I was a kid. Amazing the things you can find in Hamilton.πŸ˜‚)

2. Speaking of Dawn, the first time I met her was in a bar she was manager of. You could get a decent glass of wine for £1.50. I miss that place.

3. I really want to climb a munro but I don't really like heights. Or walking up hills. Both of which could be a problem. πŸ˜‚

4. I have an honours degree in Marketing. It has served me no purpose in life.

5. My birthday is the 4th October. I love presents. (Hint hint)

6. If I'm in a town I've never been to before, I always look to see if there's a Wetherspoons to add to my "collection". I always know what I'm getting with a 'spoons. (Cheap wine.)

7. I've never had a pet. Not even a goldfish.

8. I've not been to a hairdresser since I was 17. Which is probably pretty obvious. 😘

9. I once memorised all the capital cities. It was 1988 though so a lot of the countries no longer exist. I'm not QUITE as clued up on the new ones.

10. I was the captain of my primary school quiz team. We lost in the first round.πŸ˜‚

11. I've worn contact lenses since I was 13. Not the same pair.πŸ˜‚

12. I love cooking but I hate doing dishes.

13. I wish I was one of those people who love cleaning and find it therapeutic. Unfortunately I'm not. That's probably one of the reasons why I love hotels because I don't need to clean them.

14. I spend A LOT of time looking at other people's food on instagram. Like HOURS.

15. I don't sleep a lot...unless I've had wine then I've been known to fall asleep pretty much anywhere. Even in public. 😒

16. I love travelling, whether that's abroad or in Scotland.

17. I still watch Hollyoaks. I'm 37. πŸ˜‚

18. I love to know about stuff. I'm addicted to Wikipedia and one time when I was drunk I decided I wanted to know EVERYTHING and ordered books from amazon about Greek mythology, the Bermuda Triangle and...urban legends?!

19. I am ridiculously dog broody and basically turn into a blubbering mess every time I see one.

20. I love disaster films.

So that's pretty much me in a nutshell. If you can identify with any of my facts please feel free to reassure me that I'm not alone. 😘

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

WHEN YOUR NAME IS THREATENED WITH "EXTINCTION" . . .

I dug these pictures out last week for Mother's Day, thanks to a wee slideshow my dad put together for me a while back.

This is baby Paula.


Back in the day Paula was, I think, quite a popular name. Other options for her were Chloe (my mum's choice) and Evelyn (my dad's choice) but I think they eventually settled on Paula because mum knew a girl with that name and had liked it. Ultimately I reckon it's probably more "me" than the other two possibilities.

But today I found out my name is possibly about to become extinct.

Sounds very dramatic doesn't it? A tad overdramatic perhaps... after all, can a name technically become extinct when there are still people called Paula left in the world? And also, the research in question doesn't take into consideration every single baby born this year.

But, out of a sample of like 3 million new mums, no one has called their baby Paula this year.

Seriously? Paula is an awesome name! I mean, I know it's my name, so I'm perhaps a bit biased, and, don't get me wrong, I did often wish I'd been called something a bit more exotic, but it's a decent name. It doesn't generally incite teasing and the worst thing that probably ever happened to me was that a supply teacher misread my name as Paul on the register one day, which is understandable. And I can't really blame him when my own mum accidentally wrote "To Paul" on my 30th birthday card.  My own mum. I despair!

Anyway, along with names like Angela, Sharon and Joanne, less and less people are calling their baby girls Paula. This seems mad to me since I was not the only Paula I knew growing up, there was at least one in each year at school, and even one of my sister's best friends shared my name. I'm sure it used to be quite a trendy name even. (Wow, that's yet another reason to make me feel old.)

But now, if you are wanting your kid to stand out, you really should consider calling her Paula. If nothing else, you know that hardly anyone else these days is going to be called it.

I feel a bit like Chandler in "Friends" trying to convince Phoebe she should call one of the triplets Chandler. Paula's funny, sophisticated, and she's very loveable . . . once you get to know her. ;-)

via GIPHY


So . . . think about it. Because I don't want Paula to become extinct.

Glad we've got that straight.

How do you feel about YOUR name? And is it also on the extinct list?