Friday, 18 August 2017

LET'S TALK ABOUT TAE BO!

Some people never forget their first love.

Mine was probably Tae Bo.





I read about it back when I was in my early twenties and trying to lose weight - someone from "Melrose Place" was being interviewed about their fitness regime and talking about how they did Tae Bo classes. I had no idea who the actress was (I only ever saw the first series of the show and she definitely wasn't on that particular series) but she had a good body and I was utterly intrigued by the idea of a workout consisting of punches and kicks. It sounded like the kind of workout that even unfit little old me could get on board with.

I did my research and I eventually bought a VHS (I know - how old am I!!!) of a Tae Bo workout - it was the only one I could find at the time in my local Woolies and it cost me something ridiculous like sixteen pounds, but I was so excited. It was just a basic workout but I was ridiculously excited about it and loved it. Combined with my calorie counting, I lost loads of weight and really toned up.

Over the years since, I've forgotten about Tae Bo, then remembered about it and fallen in love with it all over again. Well, as much as *I* can fall in love with exercise - let's just say I like it more than any other workout. Why do I think it's so good?

1) Time goes much quicker doing Tae Bo than any other workout. Possibly because you're concentrating on trying to get a move or a combo right and it means that you don't notice the time as much.

2) It's really high energy but you don't necessarily need to jump around a lot. I hate jumping around too much as my ankles and legs get sore easily. Also, I live in a third floor flat and I don't want my downstairs neighbours to think there's a baby elephant living upstairs doing aerobics.

3)You're working your core so much without even really realising it. Jabbing across the body works your waist and there's loads of sneaky other moves that are pretty much standing-up crunches but combined with other moves so you don't notice as much.

4)There is little more therapeutic after a shit day than punching and kicking the air while imagining someone who has really really fucked you off that day. Trust me. It's truly magical.

And then there's one final amazing thing - I don't really like working out in the morning, I'm usually too tired and I don't always have time to wash my hair after a workout in the morning. However, I've found a number of short eight minute workouts online which means I can painfully quickly wriggle in and out of my straitjacket sports bra, do a decent quick workout without too much bouncing around, and then jump quickly in the shower without having to wash my hair . . . because I've felt like I've worked hard, but it's over fast and while I'm sweaty, I haven't reached the sweaty hair stage.  For me, this is just a little bonus workout, I still try and get something else done later, but it makes me feel good to have gotten a little additional workout prior to work because it does make you feel a bit more alert and ready for anything.

These workouts are on youtube and are completely free . . . and, as I said, they're over with in less than ten minutes!

This one is probably my favourite



I don't like this one quite as much but it's good for a wee change



And this one calls itself an eight minute workout but it also has quite a long warm-up with stretches at the start and a short cool down, so while the main workout is eight minutes, it works out as more a 15 minute workout in total. It's a bit more involved than the previous two, with a bit more lower body workout thrown in, so it's definitely worth a shot if you have a wee bit more time to spare.



If you've never entered the world of Tae Bo before, I would definitely recommend it. There are absolutely LOADS of workouts available free on youtube  apart from the ones I've embedded in this post, so it's definitely worth a look on there - there are also plenty of DVDs available of the workouts on amazon - have a look here - and some of them are pretty cheap so if you try the youtube workouts and like it you can build up a little collection of DVDs if you're so inclined.

Just watch out for that Billy Blanks, if he tells you "one more set" he's usually lying and you'll still be doing that "one more set" four sets later. Be warned! ;-) BUT it's old school, it's fun, it's therapeutic and it works you out - what more can you ask for? I'd definitely recommend it!

Have you ever tried Tae Bo?

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

P'S 2017 READING CHALLENGE . . . PART 4!

It's been a wee while since I posted about my reading challenge . . . this isn't because I haven't been reading by any means! Well it is a little bit but I still have a backlog of books I've read and haven't yet posted up here, so that's no excuse. I guess it's just that I'm a bit lazy! Reading a book is far more easy than writing about the book when it comes down to it. (Probably another reason why I couldn't be a book blogger!) But anyway, let's get down to it, with the next five books I've read so far this year!



Single for the Summer - Mandy Baggot

Now, I actually read this back when I was in Lanzarote in May; however, because I had got a free copy of it through Netgalley, it wasn't actually officially published yet at that point so I didn't really feel I could post about it. It is now out though, so yay!!! What immediately struck me about this book was that it was set in the village of Kalami, which was the first place I ever stayed when I went to Corfu for the first time in 2014. I absolutely loved it there and, although I'm sure some of the places were fictional, there were enough real life places thrown in to really take me back three years and yearn to go back. (This year I'm going to Kavos, which begins with the same letter, but really isn't quite the same.) This story features Tess as our heroine - to say she is a commitment-phobe is probably a pretty big understatement - who goes on holiday with her heartbroken best friend to Corfu, pledging to the friend that she will not get into a relationship this time. And she fully intends to stick to her pact, even when the gorgeous Andras asks her to pretend to be his girlfriend to get his mum off his back. But there's often a fine line between reality and fiction . . . I loved this book, it was funny and sweet and romantic . . . and it was interesting to find out exactly what had happened to Tess to make her the way she was. Warning: whether you have been to Kalami or not, this book will make you itch to go there asap! 8/10

Seven Steps to Happiness - Stella Newman

Lenny is a bit of a free spirit, with a career which keeps her away from home a lot, and a boyfriend-who-isn't-really-a-boyfriend, while Juliet is happily married with a great career and a pretty-much-grown-up daughter. Neither of them are entirely happy with their lives though, especially when Juliet discovers that her perfect marriage has more cracks in it than she ever could have realised . . . so when Lenny is given the chance to try an app that promotes happiness, she decides both she and Juliet could use this! This book was a bit slow to get going but once I was into it I found myself very invested in the characters and hoping they would find their happiness. Oh, and it will really make you want to eat a cheese toastie, so this is my second book in this post with a warning! 7/10


Love From Paris - Alexandra Potter

I have loved Alexandra Potter's novels since her debut "What's New, Pussycat?" many moons ago. "Love From Paris" was no exception to this. Now, technically, this book is the second in "The Love Detective" series but you don't actually need to have read the first book in order to enjoy this one . . . to be honest, I feel like I read the first one so long ago that I could barely remember the plot, except what was mentioned in this book with regards to Ruby's (our protagonist!) past. This was an enjoyable, intriguing story, where Ruby decides to visit her friend Harriet in Paris after feeling let down by her long-distance boyfriend Jack. Once there, she finds a mysterious bunch of letters hidden in an apartment and an attractive lawyer who seems to be interested in her. Will she get to the bottom of the letter mystery . . . and which guy is she meant to be with? In amongst all this you have the beautiful backdrop of gorgeous Paris, which is just the icing on the cake. Definitely a good wee read, a gentle, funny page-turner with a lovely additional plot set in the past. 8/10


Him Downstairs - Sherill Turner

I'd never heard of this book prior to ordering it, but I was browsing through amazon on my Kindle and was intrigued by the premise, so decided to go for it! It's always hard to cope with a break-up . . . but what if your ex lives in the flat directly underneath you? That's the case for Lucy, who had formed an amazing relationship with Tom . . . until the strain of his recent separation from his wife and two kids takes its toll and he breaks up with her. Absolutely gutted, Lucy tries her best to move on but she can't help but run into him all the bloody time given his proximity! This was a funny but very honest look at trying to get over a break-up and the hope you often hold, as the one who has been broken up with, that you'll maybe get back together someday. I definitely couldn't stop reading! 7/10

The Law of Attraction - Roxie Cooper

I feel like I had been waiting for this book to be released for so long! I had been following Roxie on twitter for YEARS, before I even knew she had a book deal, so when I found out she DID have a book deal, I was so excited to read it. Of course, I was worried that I had hyped the book up too much in my head, but I was delighted to discover it was brilliant! It takes you into the world of Chambers and barristers, where platinum blonde Amanda, who didn't grow up in a privileged background by any means, has just been accepted for a pupillage for a year, against all odds. The aforementioned odds are stacked against her even more when she discovers she's competing in an internship against horrible Martin from her previous course - and he has somehow managed to twist the entire chambers around his little finger, while Amanda struggles to be taken seriously by the men, and is bitched about by the women. However, Amanda didn't get where she was without a struggle, and she's not going to give her dream up without a fight. But will a secret from her past send her dreams crashing to the ground? This is an excellent book, I devoured it in less than a day - it was so interesting seeing what goes behind closed doors in chambers, the dialogue was great, Cooper has created a great heroine in Amanda and the slimy antagonist Marty was brilliantly captured too . . . and of course there was a nice little romantic storyline too just to add to everything else that was going on. I loved this book and can't speak more highly of it! 10/10


So a wee update to the challenge so far . . . at the moment I'm standing at 24 books (which means just one more book and a part 5 post will be in the offing) and according to Goodreads this means I'm "On track". As usual, since I got back my holiday I have definitely dialled down on my reading which means I'm thinking "Oh holy shite, I only have four and a half months to read SIXTEEN BOOKS!!! . . . however, I have TWO abroad holidays coming up in the next two months so that means I should be able to make up for lost time. Fingers crossed anyway!!!

What have YOU been reading recently?

Monday, 14 August 2017

P'S TOP PICKS: SWIMWEAR-TO-LIE-FOR!

Now, as you may have noticed a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned I was going on holiday soon. Well, as of last week, I now have two holidays to look forward to in the next two months - so it's Kavos in less than two weeks time and then, just a month later, I'm off to Ibiza.

So I've now started looking into swimwear and whether I can actually afford to buy any new pieces. Given that I've went a bit over-the-top in asos and boohoo already on dresses etc this might be a struggle. I don't actually know if I can buy anything else (unless I want to just exist on water when I'm on aforementioned holidays) but a girl can dream, right???

So here is some fabulous swimwear I have found which is just perfect to lie around the pool in! (Well, once I manage to lose several spare tyres, that is!)



Clockwise from top left: Asos Riviera Floral Print Frill Bikini / Boohoo Petite Heather Tropical Flower Lace-Up Bikini / Missguided Red Printed Low Side Swimsuit / River Island Scuba Scallop Swimsuit



Clockwise from top left: New Look Print Tropical Mesh Panel Swimsuit / Asos Sunshine Floral Print Bandeau Tie Swimsuit / Pimkie Floral Ditsy Print Swimsuit / Madrid Kaleidoscope Triangle Bikini

I don't know if it's just me, but I do see a lot of swimwear out there that looks nice but which looks completely impractical in terms of tanning. For example, I don't really want a bikini with random cut-outs, or extra straps, or a cold shoulder - the tan lines are just going to be ridiculous! So I have tried to choose relatively practical styles, while still looking good . . . personally, I think I've did a pretty good job!

What do you think?

Friday, 11 August 2017

SLEEPING BEAUTY? PERHAPS NOT . . .

So the other week when we were on the way into the office, oh-so-happily as per usual (yes, that was sarcasm), there was a segment of the radio show we were listening to where they were inviting listeners  to share stories about when they fell asleep at a party. Or something like that. I have to admit I was only half listening as I was too busy opening my wunderlist app to make a note in my blog post ideas list. ;-)

I'd love to say I don't have my own story but I do. I have a couple of them.

I've mentioned before that I have lots of trouble sleeping . . . except when I've had a good few drinks in me. Once that happens I can conk out like a light. Anywhere.

I've fallen asleep at a gig. And, more recently, on my team's Christmas night out, while just sitting at the table.

But the one that took the cake was the time I fell asleep at my friend's house on New Year's Eve a good few years ago. I was in a wee bit of an emotional black hole that night and let's just say I'd drank rather a lot to forget . . . as well as the fact it was new year's eve obviously which almost necessitates a lot of drinkies! So after the pre-night out drinks, the night out drinks and the post-night out drinks, I was rather drunken. And I fell asleep on my friend's couch. I must have woken up later and moved as I woke up in a bed, but I was most definitely asleep on the couch prior to that.

Because I found these pictures on Facebook the next day . . .


Yep, my friends had decided to have a wee bit of fun at my expense while I snoozed.

 

The bit that seemed to tickle people's funnybone the most was the bottle of Cif.

Annoyingly, I did not get to keep the alcohol.

So Happy Friday everyone! Hope you have lovely plans for tonight, drunken or otherwise, and I'd love you to share any drunken falling-asleep stories you have in the comments if you're so inclined!

Monday, 31 July 2017

P'S TOP PICKS: FABULOUS SUNGLASSES!

I haven't bought a new pair of sunglasses in a good few years now . . . and as my current pair are covered in scratches and I'm off on another holiday in less than a month, I am definitely on the lookout for some new ones. I thought I'd take the opportunity to share some of my faves here. You are welcome. ;-)


So, first up, I absolutely love these Monsoon numbers from Boots (I couldn't find them on Monsoon's website). I love both the shape and the colour . . . I definitely could be tempted by these ones! (I just need to wait until I have a spare thirty quid to buy them!)


Those, at the moment, are probably my top contender, but there's other options out there. Like this pair from asos which I think are mega cool. Just me?


I do love me a bargain and, at a mere four pounds, these Boohoo sunglasses are most definitely that... they're also pretty damn chic too.


Also loving these cateye sunnies from Accessorize . . . I do love a good cateye shape. <3 p="">

And, last but not least, I love the pattern on these Top Shop shades too... and the shape too, obviously!


What do you think? Do any of these sunnies float YOUR boat? What is your own favourite pair of sunglasses? I'd love to hear more from you guys so feel free to leave a comment!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

ON COMPLAINING . . .

I'm not a big complainer.

Well, that's technically not true. I moan about things all the time, like when it takes me ages to get served at a bar (I really do think most bars should at the very least consider the idea of implementing a queuing system), or when someone stops right in front of me abruptly in the street without any warning whatsoever, or when companies send you unsolicited snail mail with "recycle" messages on it (stop sending it and solve the paper waste problem, eh???)  or the weather because Scotland. But in terms of actually writing a complaints letter or email, I don't really tend to do this. I think about doing it a lot, but I don't actually get around to it.












My boyfriend's mum loves a complaint letter. She's great at them. She'll send them away but she'll keep copies of them so we can read them. She actually writes "copy" on those ones, which I think is amazing. She wrote a great one the time we got stuck in a taxi in Newcastle for about an hour and a half during the Great North Run a few years ago, and the time the boyfriend got a parking ticket for parking too long in the same car park, when he'd actually been there two separate times that day and parked in completely different bits of the car park. I need to get some of her inspiration as there's been a few things I wanted to complain about over the past few years. I haven't actually got the motivation to do it yet, but I will . . . one day. In the meantime, I thought I'd list them here. Maybe that will remind me to actually do it at some point . . .

At some point I need to complain to a well-known clothing website . . .

If I am searching through sale items and I've specifically filtered it to choose my size only, I've done this so I don't get the inevitable disappointment of seeing something I like, clicking on it and then discovering it's only available in a size 4. So I get rather upset when I filter it by size, see something I like, click on it with much excitement and then discover that it's sold out and, slightly annoyingly, has a sad face emoticon next to it. Why isn't the system intuitive enough to know not to list that item? I refuse to believe that someone has literally just virtually stole the last one from under my nose. Because it tends to happen several times in quick succession. And it's very disappointing. :-(

At some point I need to complain about car parking . . .

Outside the boyfriend's house there's space for four cars to park (and it's not a tight squeeze) but there aren't actual physical "spaces" mapped out with paint, if you know what I mean? So if the neighbours beat us back when we're staying at his, they tend to park like douchebags, managing to park in such a way that only two cars can possibly get parked. I am constantly saying I'm going to contact his council about it and ask them if they can paint lines in for spaces but I have been saying this for about two years now. I think this one might actually get written at some point though - in the last couple of weeks I've even gotten as far as taking pictures of the various different parking scenarios that go on as examples, so I'm getting there. Give me another two year and this particular complaint letter might actually get sent after all!

At some point I need to complain about rail tickets . . .

My local station is an interchange station, as well as also having a subway. When you walk inside, there is a manned window for subway tickets and a machine for subway tickets. For the railway, there is one manned window for tickets and no machine. (I should add there are two windows for both subway and railway tickets but I have not once witnessed more than one window open for each.) This means there is always a queue for railway tickets and usually no alternative. You very occasionally get a couple of staff with handheld machines issuing tickets but this has been pretty rare. So we've ended up missing numerous trains because of having to queue behind someone who has decided today is the day they're going to buy their round the world train ticket that they don't actually need for three months. And if you're going into the city centre you can't really jump on the train and hope for the best because if the ticket seller on the train doesn't get to you during the five minute journey, you have to queue at your destination anyway because there's a ticket barrier there and you have no ticket to get through it. Frustrating as anything!!! Now, apparently they are finally installing a rail ticket machine so I might not need to complain about this after all  . . . but we've been waiting a loooonnnngggg time for this machine to materialise.

At some point I'll need to complain to a travel company . . .

I go on a lot of holidays. (Don't hate me. I'm skint because of it.) And it never fails to amaze me that with a certain company, when you arrive at your destination, go through the stress of baggage reclaim and go outside to get your bus . . . you discover the bus is not there. In fact, the reps standing around seem surprised to see you, even though five planes belonging to the company were all expected to land at that point. I do feel like I spend a lot of time waiting around for the resort transfer bus to appear at the airport, when all you want to do is get to your destination so the holiday can really begin. The occasion I wanted to complain about most though was the time we were told specifically to get on one bus, after waiting around for ages, then someone got on the bus and shouted a bunch of us off like we were naughty children who had just decided randomly to jump on the wrong bus. Sooooo not cool.  I guess that happened like two years ago now so it's probably a moot point to try and complain about that specific incident. I really really was determined to do so at the time though!

So the moral of the story here, I guess, is that if I want to complain about something, I really should do it at the point when my initial issue arises, rather than waiting around for years and stewing over it. And, in the time it took me to type up this post, I could probably have typed up at least one of the above complaint letters. Oh well . . .


Have you ever complained to a company about something? Or wanted to and not got around to it?

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...)