Tag Archives: just sayin

Information Overload

16 Apr

We live in a world of constant approval and updates – the first thing the majority of us do when we wake up is scroll through our smart phones browsing social media; what our friends are up to, what our peers have been doing and how we measure up. We get coffee and we watch the news, and then we head to work where we sneakily check Instagram, tweet here and there, and wait till we go home, where we spend the evening doing it all again. Consumer brands are reporting that their biggest online sales times are coming from these periods, where we sit watching TV yet can’t focus, tweeting away or purchasing on iPads and phones.

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It doesn’t say much for quality time with our families and loved ones, does it?

A lot of it falls down to constant marketing; being shown products geared towards an aspirational lifestyle and being asked to buy into lifestyles we can’t yet afford. The results are detrimental to lives up and down the country with people being tied into credit agreements and wanting things before they can technically have them.

We need to start living for today, rather than chasing tomorrow, as for some people, tomorrow isn’t coming. By treating life like it’s the last day we will spend living it, and by appreciating what we have rather than constantly striving to gain what we haven’t got, we will start to see the magic in the moments we are living now, rather than looking back and wondering where so much time has gone.

What do you do to switch off from the world? UNICEF recently launched a pretty cool campaign to provide water to people who don’t have it. by not touching your phone for increments of 10 minutes, the phone companies will donate to the charity. It makes you realise quite how regularly you reach for your phone during the day.

I vow to make the most of my trip to Vancouver, and turn my phone off. I want to enjoy my time in a new city, exploring and visiting new places, without having to check to see what the rest of the world is up to.

How do you switch off?

Eating My Way Around – Cape Town Fish Market, London

30 Jan

This week, I met with one of my best gal pals, and we visited our meet up haunt, Cape Town Fish Market (Oxford Street, London). It’s a restaurant just off Oxford Street, and it does the most amazing seafood. It even has the tag line “any fresher and you would need a fishing rod”, and the fish swim around in massive tanks, which adds to the whole drama of the place. It’s lovely.

They have a great offer for card holders, so we often meet up on a Tuesday and gorge on the most delicious sushi; California rolls with tempura prawns and a mango wrap, melt in your mouth sashimi and all different types of nigiri, plus wasabi mayonnaise, kohlrabi sauce and of course, soy glaze. It’s a bit pricey, but with the deal card it makes it really reasonable for good sushi (and I am a massive sushi snob) and honestly, I would go on a non deal night, it’s that good.

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Sushi, it makes miso happy

They also have a fairly extensive menu, including my personal favourite, the surf and turf. You think you know surf and turf, right? Hunk of steak covered in prawns?

You can’t even begin to imagine.

This surf and turf is out of this world, and features a real twist on the classic. Instead of steak they present you with twice cooked pork belly, and replacing the prawns are some dainty little scallops. The whole thing comes with wilted spinach, and is by far my favourite meal out. in fact, I love to try different things if I go to the same place twice, but on this occasion, I JUST CAN’T. I fear that I might get food envy if anyone else chooses it and I don’t, so I hedge safely and choose my favourite. And I am never disappointed.

This is my local go to when guests from out of town visit as it’s a bit of a crowd pleaser, and although its busy if you book you are generally guaranteed a table. The staff don’t rush you (I was there 20 mins before my friend this week and they happily let me sit with my wine and browse Facebook) and the general feel of the restaurant is happy and chilled. Just my jam.

Have you been? What is your favourite place to take guests when they are in your town?

People Are The Biggest Problem Faced

27 Jan

Customer service. Its something that we love and hate in equal measure, and flip on a hairpin at the slightest notice. If done well, someone going above and beyond their job role to help you out and deal with your grievances quickly can brighten your mood and give you renewed belief in humanity.

Done wrong, and it’s a right nightmare.

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We have a local supermarket that is much cheaper than the others, and for this reason, they do things a little differently. At the till point, you are sped through like you are part of a competitive trolley dash, and the staff are rude to the point of you actually inconveniencing their lives.

The funniest was the other day when I was in there buying a few bits, and the guy on the till, who sported a “duty manager” badge, spent the whole time distractedly talking on the phone. He was so distracted that once he had put my items through, he forgot to ask me to pay, and started ringing in all the groceries from the man behind. I can be charitable, but there is no way I’m paying for a complete stranger’s weekly shop.

Grumpy Cat customer

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get customer service for your life? Some of the most difficult things that we experience in life are often made better on the advice of others, os wouldn’t it be great if you had a dedicated line you could call up to put you back on the straight and narrow, and help you stay motivated / achieve your dreams?

Just imagine. Your New Year’s resolution is to cut out something, and make your diet far healthier. You know what you should be doing in theory, but wouldn’t it be perfect if you could jump on Skype and talk through with someone to give you hints and tips that you hadn’t thought of? Or maybe your dream is to travel the world. If you could drop an email to someone with your hopes and dreams, and them come back to you with realistic ways to achieve your goals, wouldn’t your life be so much easier?

Just a thought.

What would you get life customer service help with?

Walking in A Winter Wonderland

5 Dec

I love Christmas. I used to say I didn’t, but I was a teenager and didn’t like anything. Now I love when October comes and the air starts to crisp up  in anticipation, waiting for the onset of the cold snap and the prospect of all the festive fun to come.

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This year, Christmas feels to me to be tinged with a bitter sweetness, the first year I will wake in the morning and not see my Grandfather, dressed in his brushed cotton shirt with a cable knit jumper over. The first year I won’t hear the air peppered with swears when he realises he has cooked the goose upside down in the pan for the fourth year on the bounce, and the first year I won’t see the glee in his face as he shakes the presents and throws the wrapping paper over his shoulder.

Nonetheless, Christmas is exciting. My goddaughters are 6 and 2 respectively and still believe in the magic of the season (and so do I for that matter) so we will try to seek out father Christmas in the days before the main event, and make mince pies just in case he hasn’t had his fill by the time he gets to their house.

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And it’s a time for new traditions. This year, the boy and I exchanged advent calendars and Christmas jumpers on the first, when we also listened to Michael Buble (I love him and I don’t care who knows) and made the first round of mince pies. He was very thoughtful, so rather than getting chocolate in my calendar I got a Yankee Candle one (spot the diabetic). Most people forget so I was very touched!

Last night I came home and my housemate was making gifts; windfall chutney in cute little glass jars, and so I wrapped all the gifts I had bought and drank cups of tea with her. as soon as the tree comes we will adorn it with little toadstools and gingerbread lights to make it the pretties (and also fairly gargantuan for the size of our flat) tree in all the land.

terrifying

terrifying

I’ve bought some silly napkins that look like Father Christmas’s suit when you tuck them in to your collar, and my family will be made to wear reindeer antlers or other silly headgear at the table.

It’s a time for being with the ones you love and celebrating the fact that there is a day when you can throw away the rest of the world and all congregate.

And I think that’s the magic of Christmas.

What are your traditions and rituals of the season?

A Warm Smile Is The Universal Language of Kindness

18 Oct

Yesterday was one of those days. You know the ones, when you step in a puddle on your way to the Tube, get barged about and arrive at the office looking like you’ve done a few rounds with a hurricane in a boxing ring.

The day got worse and worse, and a one point I sat in the loo and thought longingly to the cosiness of the bed I had left that morning, pillows all shaped just so and duvet wrapped round my like a cosy cuddle. Its days like this that your brain only deals in days beginning with an ‘S’, where you can wake up slow and ignore the fact that the weather outside means that the chances are high that you may have to start a collaborative ark building project with the other inhabitants of your flat block, submitting any ‘good wood’ for the cause.

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Anyway, this post isn’t about bad things. OH NO ITS NOT.

Something truly lovely happened to me yesterday, and I wanted to tell you all about it as it touched me.

I got an email.

It began:

“First, let me apologize for bothering you on your email but since you are the only person I know (that I don’t really know but I do read your blog) who lives in London I could really use your expertise.

My family, husband, two teens( boy 15, girl 13) and myself are planning a trip to London”


It went on to ask me where I thought good to go in the city, what to bring and where to see, and it really brightened my day. Not only that its not just my Granddad reading these days, but that someone thought of me when they needed some help. Paying it forward. It’s the right thing to do.

I guess the moral of this story is to help people. Altruistic acts are what makes the world go round, and what makes people think the world is still a nice place. That one email, however innocent, made my day all the better, so thank you so much Leslie, from Florida, whoever you are :)

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I’m in the process of pulling together all the fun things to do in the city, but for the time being I’ll share my favourite resource here; a great little secret if you are ever coming to London. I love it because even as someone who has lived in the city over 2 years, I feel like I have barely scratched the surface.

I Know A Little Place in London has a weekly update of pop ups and features across the city, and their Facebook page shares the most compelling images. It even inspired me to go to an outdoor Lido (which was essentially just Kensington Lake)in the summer, and that’s saying something!

Do something to make someone else smile every day. Its just nice, isn’t it?

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What has someone else done recently that made you smile?

I know I have been a little quiet of late, but I am slightly addicted to Instagram so if you fancy a visual representation of what I SHOULD be blogging about, give me a follow (on the right).

xxx

“Children See The Magic Because They Look For It”

16 Oct

Magic comes to those who make it, and I strongly believe in the sorcery of believing everything as a child. Children have an alarming clarity at times, and the ability to be able to see the world from a different point of view; a stance so far unaffected by politics and sadness and life events that willshape their future and colour their perception.

When I was a kid, my parents and grandparents revelled in the theatre of the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas, with mince pies bitten and carrots carefully nibbled when we came bouncing through on Christmas morning. My dad still wildly claims that one year he REALLY DID hear Santa on the roof (although that was the year he got drunk and also claimed he had been abducted by aliens when we found him asleep round the toilet the following morning), and I believed in the tooth fairy for far longer than I should thanks to a timer switch in my Gran’s house and a set of grandparents with vivid imaginations.

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And I do the same for my Goddaughters. You won’t catch me debating the truth in the elves or if Rudolph’s nose really shines; if you can’t believe in the magic of children and the awe of the way they see everything then your world will be a smaller place. Every year I write them a letter from Father Christmas in response to their Christmas lists, alluding to being good and nice to Mummy, and ‘find’ it on the doorstep on my way in. Lilly loves to announce to everyone she knows that Father Christmas answers her, and that she absolutely has to be good to be in with a chance of getting “a dolly what poos” for Christmas this year. The mind boggles.

I love to lie on the grass in the summer with my little dumplings and play the cloud game – seeing if we can spot the different layers of clouds shaping dragons and princesses, cars and trains, for the wind to blow and the picture to change again. I play this all the time and often get laughed at for being dreamy and whimsical, but when I have two chubby little hands in mine, fingers entwined and a captive audience, I just know I can see a princess in a castle waiting for her prince, or a dog with a bone looking for the sun. And I love to hear the excitement in their voices when it comes to counting down to the visit from the big man himself; will he eat the mince pie? Will he not be too full after eating all the other mince pies from the other children? What if Rudolph is too tired to fly?

As JM Barrie once said, “On these magic shores children at play are for ever beaching their coracles. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.”

As much as I moan about mince pies in the shops in August and people carolling way too early, I’m super excited about their little faces when the tree is decorated and the Christmas pjs are out :)

What do you love most about the season?

I’ve written about magic and children before, if you enjoyed this you might enjoy these posts:

Mary: The Truth about the Toothfairy

Those Who Don’t Believe In Magic Will Never Find It

Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

Age Is But A Number

16 May

Today marks the 27th anniversary of the day I was born, a day my mother’s life became considerably more awesome. As a child I was a complete primadonna, scared of getting muddy, refusing to eat most foods and reluctant to admit that my baby sister was something that was staying around. As a 27 year old im scared of getting muddy, sure, but I will eat anything within a mile radius and am reluctant to let my little sister leave when we spend any time together. What a difference over a quarter of a century makes!

The fact that I am now 27 is a bit of an issue for me; my brain has a power struggle with things that I think I should be doing and things that I am actually doing, causing minor meltdowns when I think that I have missed something off the list. As an over achiever, I long for the days when I was at school and papers got marked, exams got scored and you knew you were bang in line with your peers. Thanks Facebook.

For example, when having a chat with my mother over the weekend I casually asked her how old she was when she met my Dad. 22. How old she was when she married him. 24 and how old she was when she had me. 26.

I then dramatically declared myself “behind the curve” and announced that I would be a spinster surrounded by cats, growing old in a hoarders house surrounded by old cardboard boxes and things that I had formed emotional relationships with for no reason other than attachment, like bin bags. Sure, I may have been watching too many of those compulsive hoarder shows, but the fear was still there. I ate a whole lot of cheese (I might be old now and my cheese choices have matured from orange square cheese to goats cheese, but cheese is still my comfort food of choice) and went back to my lovely urban flat, minus children and significant other half  to cook and clean (makes me feel calm, don’t judge) until I proudly announced that “I liked it when my flat smelt of swimming pools” and I wasn’t even joking.

My housemate (God love her) then proceeded to read me an article about things that would make me feel old, and they did. So it worked.

Capture

The main killer that took me from ‘strangely happy about the fact that I am turning 27’ to ‘wait while I go slash my wrists with my OAP bus pass” was the fact that Luke Perry, the first TV star who I was in love with in 90210, is 45. Goddamit, 45??!!!! The Backstreet Boys are also rocking their 40s, and according to this article, not too well given the hair plugs and protruding beer bellies.

If you fancy getting hit with the full list, here you go.

The moral of this story is that after a brief chat with myself where I pondered my existence, I realised that I don’t actually want to be 17 again. I had bad hair, hadn’t mastered the art of contact lenses and ……….. TEQUILA.

I rest my case.

What makes you suddenly realise you’re a grown up?

Forgive Me, For I Am A Cross Dresser

13 Feb

I mean it.

F*!@ng cross.

I hate shopping. I know we have discussed this before, but I feel the need to cover old ground with this one. I HATE SHOPPING. It comes at you with alarming force (and for all those people who just happen to have a ‘spare’ outfit in the cupboard for the surprise event, I’m not a bit fan of yours right now either) suddenly you need a dress for something you have to go to this weekend, or your bra strap breaks and you have to make a non scheduled Victoria Secret stop, or your sister throws up on your boots…. it’s all the same. Sprung from nowhere like Robin Hood in the forest, you have to go.

Not THAT sort of cross dresser.....

Not THAT sort of cross dresser…..

Firstly, I’m a fan of online. Browsing through virtual shelves of sumptuous fabrics and delicately made garments is my joy de vivre. No being ram raided by some glamazon who is coveting that last size 10 you are halfheartedly looking at, or being asked every two minutes by the shop attendant if you “need any help at all?” (the answer being yes! Mental help if I have to carry on doing this) But it carries with it its limitations, in that you can’t be totally sure you havent accidently bought lycra unawares, or that you wont look like a doughnut trying to force itself into a test tube when you try it on.

Shops get the better of me. And so do playsuits. My best friend laughs at me for constantly picking up playsuits masquerading as dresses, and once I tried one on and managed to get both legs through one leg hole, before enquiring what the funny bit of fabric was and being hilariously informed by the dying shop assistant and my friend that that was in fact the other leg. Foiled by a playsuit once again!!

Secondly, I hate changing rooms. They either make you look like Halle Berry; all sinewy arms and washboard stomachs so that you purchase the item, get it home and model it for your sister who, once composed, recommends you take it back. This happens far too regularly. Or, you take your clothes off, look at yourself in the mirror in your underwear and are overcome by a sudden sense of horror. A combination of the oh-so alarming lighting and the circus house of mirrors cause a sob to rise in your throat while you speed dial your mother and beg “AM I THE ELEPHANT MAN IN DENIM??”

"The shopping is done, biiiiiitches!"

“The shopping is done, biiiiiitches!”

To make the whole thing worse. in London it doesn’t matter what day of the week or hour of the day you go, everyone else is there. Its like everyone has a pager, and as soon as I get the idea that I can’t put it off any longer and I simply must go shopping, the beeper goes off and everyone in the world springs from their sofas, puts on their shoes and hot foots it to Stratford, where I am innocently getting off the Tube, prepared to give this shopping lark that girls seem to love one more go.

Love it or hate it?

Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases

31 Oct

I have an illness. Some days, weeks and months, it’s not a big thing. It’s not who I am and I exist in uneasy silence with it while it sleeps, waiting in the hope that its feeling tired and not going to rear its head when I least expect it. As I said, it doesn’t define me, but it IS a part of who I am now.

And then at other times, it consumes me like a hunger that I can’t fix, a void that I can’t fill. I struggle to walk up the stairs; I get out of breath and my heart races doing the smallest of tasks. I get sleepy, I feel dizzy and I get forgetful. My illness becomes the first thing that you see about me; dark circles, a pallid complexion and a girl who sleeps for 23 hours a day and could drink a river dry.

Last week, the hint of the day on the WordPress blog was to explain to someone who didn’t know anything about a part of you. And it came at a poignant time, as that week I had been in bed, struggling with the other part of me and dealing with people who just don’t understand.

I see it from the other side, I really do. I can remember a time when I wasn’t ill, when all the bits in my body did what they should when they should and I used to get annoyed with people taking lots of time off and having to cover their work. So I can put myself in their shoes, and I get it.

But I wonder how many people, equipped with the knowledge of my day to day life, could put themselves in my shoes? Imagine a day where the first thing you do when you wake and the last thing you do before you go to sleep is stick a needle in yourself, or you would get really sick? Not to mention the four or five times in the day in between. A life where you can’t get pick and mix at the cinema because you can’t exactly work out the sugar content, or where you can’t reach for the calming bubbles of that full fat diet coke when you have a hangover, making do with diet versions or fizzy water?

It all adds up. Don’t feel pity, the majority of things I can do, with some subtle adaptions, and I do. But there are some days that something happens, like someone sneezes in my face on the tube, and then the whole balanced micro system goes to pot. The cells that are preventing me from coming down with any other nasties get confused and rush to a different place, leaving the alien bugs of someone else’s sneeze to bring down my pathetic immune system in one fell swoop. And then the sugar becomes the enemy and infiltrates, causing a whole host of other problems. I make light of it, but it’s serious.

If someone could stand in your shoes for one day, what would you like them to see?

My Wardrobe Has S.A.D

16 Aug

In the spirit of starting in a new office and the idea that you have the chance to reinvent yourself, I have been addressing the current state of my wardrobe, and I assure you that it’s not a pretty sight. If you can imagine a bomb going off in TK Maxx or Primark, then you are probably 90% of the way towards understanding the turmoil of the cupboard. The mantra is, if you can throw it in and shut the door in time to stop everything falling out, then you are cooking on gas.

Not my actual wardrobe.. but if I ever own a dressing gown like that, please somebody shoot me. Immediately.

The first step of this process was to actually sort out what I have in there in the first place. My bedroom is on the ground floor and has limited space, but I have a bathroom a floor up with ceiling to floor wardrobes, stuffed full of clothes. The problem is that I am too lazy in the morning, so have a back up chest of drawers that contain 10% of my wardrobe (call it ‘capsule’ if you will, I think that’s a word that fashonistas and organised people use) and tend to wear the same things every week, leaving me without a clue as to what is lurking behind the mysterious wardrobe doors.

I started a banshee like clear out, throwing everything into the room, and hanging and tidying for what felt like days, until it resembled a well organised shop offering a vast selection of wares in length order, with shoes nestled under the shortest stuff.

This threw up a new problem. It turns out that my sister is right, and all I wear is black, navy, coral, or a combination with some polka dots thrown in for good measure. Christ. My wardrobe has seasonal affective disorder. And fashion (and shopping) are not my forte’s.

I WISH.

So I went shopping with a more fashion forward friend, and tried on a gorgeous dress, which I bought. The problem is, that it came with a net skirt, and while deliberating it in the changing room I nearly caused a woman to suffer death by choking when I innocently asked my friend “but does it make me look like I’m harbouring a secret pregnancy scandal?” It apparently didn’t, so I bought it. Now it’s looking very pretty in my cupboard, but when I put it on I talk myself out of wearing it on the basis that I look like a little girl heading off to a birthday party in her finest party dress. Not a good look for a girl whose ‘glam’ look is wearing a pair of (tiny) heels with her jeans and throwing on a blazer for good measure.


And dresses come with so many conundrums, as I found today when shopping with a friend for the summer party we are going to tonight. After she bought a new dress, we headed straight to Marks and Spencer’s for girdle style hold-it-all-in pants, which would go as high as our neck and as far down as our knees, to prevent us from looking like a condoms stuffed with walnuts. It was an interesting experience. I picked up a dress style weapon of torture, dreaming that it would make me look like Gisele on a thin day, and went to try it on.

The reality of it was that I spent 20 minutes in the changing room in diving position with it round my shoulders, wondering how the hell I was going to get it off. I had visions of falling out of the changing room door in nothing but my knickers and a rubber ring of girdle stuck round my neck, for all to see and if I’m honest, the panic set in and I began to believe that I was going to be hampered with this unusual body addition for the rest of my life.

During this low point, I sympathised with the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and had to talk myself off the ledge of thinking I was going to be ostracised by society. I did eventually get it off (after sweating about a stone of weight off) and managed to give myself a nosebleed in the process.

If that’s fashion, then I will put my pyjamas on and politely decline!

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