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!