Tag Archives: personal

Road Trippin

25 Jan

So I’ve been gone a while. And even when I was present for a bit, I kind of wasn’t, if you know what I mean. The kid in the corner with the vacant look and the wandering soul. That’s been me for a while.

Losing my grandfather was by far the hardest thing I have ever had to go through, but I feel like he would be so cross should he think that we were all moping around, mourning his life and chasing his shadow. So its time to pull my socks up, put clothes on other than pjs or joggers, and remember that there is a big world that hasn’t gone anywhere, and is waiting for me to explore it.

I suddenly realised that I have been hibernating and licking my wounds last week when my friend commented that we had to make some plans that involved leaving the house. It was true, and it dawned on me that I have been hiding from the world for far too long.

Behind the scenes, I have got back to living life with intention, a concept introduced to me last year that changed my outlook and caused me to think differently about the way I live my life.

So I have some things planned.

1) Road tripping round California.images

In 22 days (and counting) I leave for the other side of the world with the boy. We are, of course, headed for the place I love the most, San Diego, to visit my family. BUT, we have some fun plans. We intend to take a car and drive up the Route 101 to San Francisco, stopping all the way at fun little eateries and cool viewing points. We will spend a couple of days being tourists in San Fran (Return to Alcatraz and cycling the Golden Gate Bridge are on the list) and then take the south road inland down to Yosemite. I’m truly excited to be visiting such a natural wonder, and hoping that it will trip my mind more into thinking about what we are lucky to experience in this life, rather than the things that bring us down and try us.

2) Bergen, Norway.5767474-scenery-of-bryggen-in-bergen-norway

2 firsts for me. Norway has always seemed a little magical, so for a weekend in the end of March is dedicated to a trip to the gateway to the fjords, and a boat trip around them. It’s also the first time I will be using Air BnB (heard good things and bad) so I’ll keep you posted.

What do you have planned for 2014?

Dream a Little Dream

21 Oct

As the fingers of darkness wind around the houses and eyes become heavy and tired, I am normally not sleeping. I can be found staring at the ceiling or gazing at the stars, wondering what everyone else under the blanket of darkness is dreaming, and who else is seeing the same sky as me. I’m a bad sleeper, yet I am happy to lay I the silence and listen to the breeze whispering its hushes so the rest of the world falls asleep. When I do I never remember my dreams, more a catatonic state of things I thought about during my repose.

Recently I’ve been dreaming. And it’s not very pleasant.

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I keep having the same recurring dream, and waking trying to catch my breath. Fear grips me and my heart is a moth fluttering against a lightbulb; pounding over and over again as it tries to right itself.

It’s not even particularly scary, but it rips me back into consciousness time and time again. I’m in Cornwall (don’t ask why, I don’t have a clue!) and I’m with a girl I don’t recognise. Interestingly, my sister informs me that your brain doesn’t have the capacity to see new faces, so I must have seen the face before, maybe in passing – on the tube or in an airport. She is someone my mind has taken a still of.

I stand in her garden, which is the garden of a house I used to live in, and I am crying. My hands are cupped, and when I unfurl my fingers all my teeth are there. There is no blood; they are clean and pearly, but they are no longer where they should be. All that’s left is gums. And I can’t get back from Cornwall. The dream culminates with me holding my teeth and worrying that my Mum will wonder where I am (she doesn’t even live in London), and then I wake up trying to catch my breath and furiously chasing my tongue across my teeth to check they are all still present and correct.

I’ve mentioned it to a few people, and they all say it means I’m going to come into money. I Googled a dream finder and it said I was conscious of a secret I was keeping. I liked the sound of that; it evoked memories of being read The Secret Garden as a child, of an old key and a secret that I was never to tell. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I don’t have a secret I am keeping. That I know of.

You can take negatives and positives out of everything, and teeth falling out seems to have different suggestions in different cultures. Some say a dream about teeth falling out symbolises a fear of becoming older, or a life change or compromise that might become costly, whereas some see teeth dreams as positive, and indicative of a want to explore feelings of loss, or a need to nurture yourself and those closely around you.

I don’t believe that a dream can have the same meaning for everyone. The human mind is such a complex and intelligent system that there is no way a theme in a dream can mean the same thing in different people, regardless of age, sex, location and upbringing. It’s simply not feasible.

But I do agree that a dream is the subconscious trying to tell you something. I am a firm believer in ‘funny feelings’ and as I have got older I have learnt to trust them, like faithful old friends turning up to whisper quietly and influence which path I take.

My kindred spirit in South Africa also posted about unusual dreams today, have a read.

Tell me about your dreams.

The Art of Blogging, and Other Pretentious Phrases

19 Oct

Recently my team at work has evolved, and with it we have started a blog. It’s a team effort, with input from different personalities and different subjects to get people involved. Its been really fun.

So this week we decided to offer a new feature, On The Flip Side, where we ask bloggers to guest post on tips they would give to people starting out (if you want to read our first post with the amazing Lauren at Aspiring Kennedy, then click here) Its opened my eyes to a lot of things, and got me thinking about what I would tell people.

When I started this blog, over 3 years ago, I was so reluctant to tell people about it. I had the courage (sounds ridiculous, but to all those who have ever started a blog you’ll know what I mean) to press publish, and my Mum read it diligently every day. That was about it. I put the effort in, thought of things to write and used it as a creative outlet, not even thinking that other people might read it.

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Fast forward three years and I’m pretty proud. I’ve never quite achieved that elusive Freshly Pressed, but I have some fantastic amounts of people visiting, subscribing and commenting every day. And every time someone elses comments hit me, I’m thankful. Thankful for the fact that someone is taking the time out to read what I have to say.

Sure, I’ve had negative press, but if someone is bothered enough to talk about you, whether in a complimentary or negative way, they are taking time. So you cant be that bad.

My best advice would be to stick with it. Nothing made me happier than the day something weird happened, and my blog got featured on the front page of StumbleUpon. I woke to stats saying I had achieved 3,200 hits (WHAAAAAT? At 9am?) that day so far, and it snowballed from there. All because a few people hit ‘like’ on a social sharing site. But if you aren’t regularly posting content, then people forget and don’t visit as often. People stop engaging with you and slowly you begin to feel like the kid that didn’t get invited to the birthday party.  Just dont give up!

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And don’t follow the crowd! I am never going to be a What I Wore blogger. Mainly because 90% of what I wear is pjs. Some days at work all I can dream of is rushing through my front door and being reunited with my yoga pants. JUST IN CASE I want to do yoga. Or alternative, veg out in my baggies.

My blog is my passion. Sometimes I fall out of love with it, like a tempered child, and sometimes the words pop out of my fingertips and into the keyboard like someone left the gate open to a field of stampeding animals; I cant slow the process and I cant control the flow, but that’s OK. The words have a habit of forming in pools that sound right, and it keeps my brain working.

What do you love most about blogging, and what advice you would give for someone ready to dip their toe?

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

Don’t Talk To Strangers! Unless You Happen To Live With Them

17 Oct

In the last ten years since I have dwelled with people other than my family, I have gathered a heap of stories and experiences, like a magpie with shiny coins. I’ve made some great friends, lost some good ones and learnt a lot about patience, virtue and picking wet towels up off the floor.

Living with boys definitely gave me some insight into the ways of the opposite sex. One house share that I lived in had a perpetual problem with dirty dishes and it was a constant power struggle of me cleaning the kitchen, going out, coming back and lots of dirty dishes being back on the site. Ex-boyfriend used to leave everything he owned on the floor, and one boy used to use a tea-cup, pour it out in the sink and then (without washing it, just in case this isn’t clear) PUT IT BACK IN THE CUPBOARD. His argument was that no one should take offence, give that it was his cup. Shudder.

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On the flip side, living with girls ain’t exactly a walk in the park at times either. Hair (fake or real, take your pick) in the plug hole causing the shower to fill up like a bath, using sharp kitchen knives to open tins (“we don’t have a can opener, I looked!” “it’s in the dishwasher……”) and taking clean washing out and putting it on the floor in the laundry room, so its gets all dirty again.

So male or female, living with other people is hard. And I’m no angel. In the past decade I have realised that there are definitely things you can do to minimise the awkwardness of living in a house share with a bunch of nut jobs…. Namely moving in with a friend of 25 years.

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But when that friends circumstances changed I found myself in the position of having to find a new, STRANGER, to live in the flat I have come to see as a hidey hole from the rest of the world. It seems I fear change (and I know you are all having visions of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory – I’m not that bad).

There were tears (“but I don’t WANT to live with anyone!!”) there were calculations (“but I can’t afford NOT to live with anyone!”) and there were viewings. Or as I like to call them, interviews.

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I put a chatty ad on a local room wanted site, stating that I wanted someone who was likely to not go all Single White Female on my ass, but at the same time not likely to be sitting in their room all night playing SimCity (or whatever the kids are playing these days) and speaking in only grunts. I thought this would weed the nutjobs from the normals and hoped that if you were too young to get the SWF reference, you may not apply.

Didn’t quite work. The first god knows how many viewings that I did I ensured the boy was present as I am an appalling judge of character. With hindsight, this was an utterly pointless endeavour, as his opinion, in all cases, was “seems alright.”

THANKSSSSS

I was desperate. I didn’t want to live with a crazy person or someone who might murder me in my sleep. I didn’t think that was too much to ask for, but the chances of me living with someone who wasn’t a serial killer were lessening.

And then I got an email from a girl. She is a student (didn’t want a student) she is a young person (didn’t want a young person) and she is a girl (wanted a boy). Despite this, she is super fun, likes all the same things as me, and doesn’t talk about young things that I don’t understand. She has rescued me from spiders, and drinks tea in the same quantities.

The moral of this story?

A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet (harrumph).

Have you got any funny / horrible housemate stories?

“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

A Word To The Wise: To Bloggers, PR’s and SEO’s

17 Sep

I have something I want to get off my chest. It’s something that has been bothering me for a while, and I’ve got to the point where I am sick of people being so rude, and want to weigh in with my opinion.

Bloggers and PRs //SEOs.

As my loyal readers know, I have been blogging since I got with the times and ditched my lovely Paperchase notebook. My blog has evolved over the years from a place that my Mum catches up on what I am doing in the big city to a place where I have made friends scattered across the world, get recognition for what I do and get some great opportunities in the process.

And yes, I get a lot of requests from PRs and SEO agencies. And yes, I work for a big global, digital agency myself. So I can see it from both points of view, but being in either camp absolutely does not negate the need to be rude.

I read a lot of blog posts from bloggers who are bitching and whinging about PRs and SEOs, and I read one today about an email she had received from a PR, and it really made me see red.

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As a blogger, I get 2 types of emails. The first is a generic email, often addressed to Mr Tinkler (ta guys, I know I look a bit scary sans makeup but MR?! and also, NOT MY NAME) and is generally asking me to write about their casino // men’s pants range // caravan holiday, or even worse, post some generic content. None of these people have taken 5 minutes reading my blog to understand a) my passions and interests b) my readership and what they are interested in reading (clue, the answer is not how to tie knots) and c) don’t even know my name.

But I always stay friendly. As far as I am concerned, the blogs are extensions of me, and therefore I shouldn’t be rude. These sorts of emails receive a polite response stating how I am not interested and if they wouldn’t mind removing me from their database I would appreciate it, thank you, have a nice day.

Then there are the other kind. The PR people (or even SEO people, however much some bloggers think they eat evil for breakfast, the majority are sticking to cornflakes like the rest of the world).  These people have taken the time to either read this blog, or my beauty blog, and are contacting me to see if they can send me something to review, often for free. I don’t have a problem with this. If it is beneficial for me, for example if it is something I might be interested in trying, or I might get paid, then I will see what they have to say. If they do send me something and I have agreed with them I will write about it, then I stick to the professional attitude of maintaining my word, and write about it. I tell the truth (this isn’t a dictatorship) but I do what I said I would do, in the time frame I promised. Because that way I stay true to the professional respect I have come to command, and don’t unnecessarily upset anyone.

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I’m not ashamed to work for a digital agency, in fact, I am proud. My job is working with people like me, and on the whole, bloggers are happy to discuss and work together on something that benefits them and me. Sure, I work with an SEO team within the agency, but I also work with PR too. Some bloggers seem to have a bee in their bonnet about the amount newspapers get paid to write articles, but a word to the wise – you might get high traffic but the chances are that you aren’t commanding the same levels of readership as the Daily Mail, and for that reason you won’t be getting paid the same either. .

I love bloggers. we are a community of (on the whole) polite and respectful individuals who are professional and act with dignity. And there are some that just give the rest of us a bad name. My advice would be to always think about the person on the receiving end of your email; would you like to receive or read something so nasty? I like to treat people how I wish to be treated, and my opinion is that people who hide behind the faceless anonymity of an email are pathetic.

So to the people who send nasty emails and have delusions of grandeur, I have just one question for you.

What would your Mother say?

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.

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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?

A Wintery Weekend At Borough Market

1 Nov

It’s a rare occurrence, but this weekend was mine and mine alone. No neatly penned scribbles in the diary, no vague plans with the girls carried away into the air when we previously parted – nothing.

Exciting. I love the thought of a free weekend spanning out across the horizon with nothing interrupting it as it drifts away, and so I went about that brilliant hobby of making last minute plans to fill my day.

On Friday evening we decided, out of the blue, to go out in Camden. There was a bite in the breeze as the season is turning, but we had great fun drinking and dancing and talking with strangers. It just goes to show that when you are with your best friend, time passes too fast and very happily. No fair weather friends, just me and my partner in crime, having fun.

My Weekend In Photos

My Weekend In Photos

On Saturday we went to Borough Market. If you are based in London and haven’t been, or ever get to London, it’s a must. Lane upon lane of food stalls, the hustle and bustle of people browsing butchers and fishmongers, and the delightful smell of food stalls whetting your appetite and tantalising your taste buds. It was so hard not to stop at the first stall and chow down on paella, but luckily we resisted as we eventually came to a hog roast stand with cracking and applesauce. Yum!! We finished wandering the market and found an independent cafe to have some tea and warm our bones before heading out into the sleet to go home.

I woke early on Sunday, as the clocks had changed and took the train home to spend the day with two poorly little girls. We had great fun making pizza faces, watching movies and playing, with the kind of clingy cuddles that only sick kids give you, when they don’t want to be out exploiting and discovering, just having cosy cuddles.

How were your weekend? Seems like an age ago now!!

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?

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