Good Stuff #5

All of this good stuff came from my weekend in Somerset. I do love a weekend in Watchet...

Walks in the sunshine. Don't let the picture deceive you though, it was freezing.

A Babysitters Club book from my Mum. Turns out that Claudia was being the bitch. 

Surprise, surprise... FOOD! 
My parents bought me a pasty back from Cornwall.
Cream tea.
Is there anything better than a Mum-cooked roast dinner?
Apple pie.
Massive box of Christmas chocolates. 

A terrifying turkey (it kept following me).
Hung like a horse...
I don't even know what kind of bird that is.

Right, I'm off to hunt down a pasty and/or cream tea. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Favourite First Lines

Shit My Family Say #2

I should have known that spending last weekend in Somerset would be fruitful. Most of these quotes happened within about four hours of arriving. Comedy gold...

My Gran, on her last visit to the hospital, 'There was a man there, he must have been 6 foot 8. He was just making tea and coffee. Ee, it's another world.'

Dad, on the cushion that he had just bought for my Mum, 'The woman who made it died at Christmas, so you won't be getting another one.'

Mum (reading facts about penguins to herself), 'They can swim at fifteen miles an hour... Fifteen miles an hour. I want to do a penguin project at school....'

My brother (to the whole room), 'I know you probably don't want to look, but you can actually see a bollock through the hole in my jeans.'

My Mum, 'Paulette had to get a sat nav.' We waited expectantly for the rest of the story, but that was it.

My Gran's boyfriend, 'I wouldn't get a tattoo, but I saw a great one of a fox's tail on the bottom of this bloke's back. It looked like a fox was coming out of his ass! Ha! If I was going to get a tattoo, I'd get one like that.' 

You couldn't make this shit up. 

I Love Tweeting So Much I Made A Pie Chart About It.

I love twitter.

I know it's faintly ridiculous to have this much love for a social networking site, but I don't care.

Basically, I love to share, and twitter is a great place to do this. Five years ago I would have probably text a friend with these fleeting thoughts, but now I can share them with EVERYONE. Even some famous people. And a fictional pigeon. I've even drawn a graph to illustrate the kind of crap that I like to (over)share. I've done this because I am a) cool, and b) very good at prioritising the important tasks in my life. Ahem.

A Very Scientific Pie Chart To Show What I Tweet About.

I think the main conclusion that we can draw is that, if you follow me on twitter, your boredom/irritation threshold must be extremely high. Well done.

The other advantage of twitter over, say, facebook, is that on twitter no-one tags sweaty/chubby/ugly/decade-old photos of me and expects me to be grateful/amused.

Are you a twitterholic too?

Weekend Wanderlust: Margate

A couple of weeks ago I went to Canterbury to visit my brother and his girlfriend, and they took me to Margate for the day.
First up: the essential cake stop. We went to the Cupcake Cafe, which was decorated in a visually appealing collision of floral patterns, bunting and tea cups. I was tempted by the chocolate cake, but I couldn't resist the cream tea. It's a well-documented fact that I bloody love a cream tea.

In the interests of balance, some of Margate does have a 'deserted winter seaside town' look about it, although this old Woolworths did have it's own retro appeal:

Margate has, however, had a bit of a revival in recent years, and now has vintage shops, independent galleries, and the Turner:

My favourite part of Margate has to be the part that's been there for years, before the Turner and the cafes and the vintage shops. Hell, even before Woolworths. I give you... The seafront:

I can't wait to go back in the summer.

Love is...

Having things in common.


Appreciating the little things.


Being there for each other.

How Not To Bake Flapjacks.

Bloggers and baking. They just go together, right? Not in this case. Here's what not to do if you want to whip up a batch of flapjacks:

1. Don't use a recipe that claims to be 'very easy and simple for anyone to do of any skill'. You are tempting fate, and you will feel all the more stupid when you mess up.

2. Don't use scales that have a low battery.

3. If you do use scales that have a low battery, don't give up and guess instead. 

4. Don't eat the butter/sugar/syrup mixture while it's melting. Warning: it's too delicious for it's own good, and it gets quite hot...

5. Don't guess on oat quantity (see number three). If you do feel the need to guess, put in a lot. More than I did. 

6. If the recipe says grease the tin, don't decide you know better and use greaseproof paper instead.

7. Don't leave the flapjacks in the oven too long, therefore burning the top of your syrupy mixture. Using the right quantity of oats might solve this issue, but I wouldn't know about that. 

Despite all of this, they did actually turn out to be quite tasty. Once you've had a couple of mouthfuls, you don't really notice the taste of the greaseproof paper. Also, it was a lot more successful that the 'brownie incident', but I'm not ready to talk about that yet.

Am I the only blogger out there who can't bake to save her life?

Weekend Wanderlust: What Travel Means To Me.

I read this post on Alice's blog last week, and it got me thinking about the reasons why I love travel so much.

By 'travel' I mean any trip that takes me out of my everyday surroundings and throws me in somewhere new, be that a month-long trip or an hour spent wandering around a previously unexplored part of London. I've shared a lot of my trips/fantasy future trips on the blog but I thought it was time to explain why I love it so much.

It calms me. I find that there's something so relaxing about being physically removed from your everyday life, even if it's just for a few hours. Just two or three days into last summer's trip, I felt so free from all the little problems and stresses that had been eating away at me. Certain problems just feel so much less significant when you're reminded that the world is much bigger than the little bit that you happen to live in.

It's in my bones. Or my genes. My Dad is a travel fanatic. Every year he meticulously plans his four (UK) holidays, literally spending hours pouring over the massive pile of brochures that live next to his chair. I used to mock him for this, but now I totally get where he's coming from. 

I always come away feeling like I've learnt something. Be it an understanding of a new culture, discovering a new artist in a gallery, learning about myself, or discovering new favourite places.

It makes me feel a great sense of achievement, and reminds me of how capable I can be. I often underestimate my abilities, but even I can't deny that planning and going on a month-long solo trip, or spending six months in a foreign country, is impressive. This gives me a much-needed confidence boost.

It makes me properly, genuinely happy

Have you been bitten by the travel bug? What's your favourite thing about exploring new places?

4 Things I'm Looking Forward To In February

January has been OK, but definitely best described as up and down! So, here's to a brand new month (yes, I know I'm a week late). Here's what I'm looking forward to in February:

What are you looking forward to this month?

Tattoo Inspiration.

I'm getting my second tattoo on Tuesday, and I'm very excited (and a little bit nervous). I probably won't be posting any pictures of the end result online but I wanted to share some of the images that have inspired my latest inking:

If you'd like to join me in pouring over pictures of tattoos online (and why wouldn't you?) I can recommend Tattoologist, fyeahtattoos and (cheekily) my own Pinterest 'Tattoos.' board

Do you have any tattoos?

I've done my best to provide picture credits. If any of these images are yours and you'd like me to remove them or change the source, please just ask.

8 Sitcoms I Love.

I don't think I've ever mentioned it much on here, but I love comedy, particularly sitcoms. I tend to get a bit obsessed with watching sitcoms back-to-back. In no particular order, here's some that I love:

Fawlty Towers. Needs no introduction. Favourite episode? The Builders. 
Look Around You. You know those videos you had to watch in school science lessons? You know, the cringe-worthy ones that look like they were made in the early eighties? This under-appreciated BBC sitcom parodies them brilliantly. Gloriously geeky, and wonderfully irreverent.
The IT Crowd. Actually, the phrase, 'gloriously geeky, and wonderfully irreverent' would probably fit in just as well here. You can tell it's a Graham Linehan sitcom. If you loved Father Ted's surreal moments, give this a try.
The Royle Family. Hilarious, touching, and wonderfully understated. 
Blackadder. Not series one so much, but the others... It's probably the sitcom that induces the most 'laughing so hard I can't breathe' moments for me. That's quite a compliment, let me tell you.
Peep Show. Of all of the sitcoms on this list, Peep Show probably has the characters that I truly love the most. Eight series in, I'd watch it for the plot and the characters even if the writers stopped including the comedy. (Luckily, they have kept the funny bits in.)
Spaced. The original Pegg/Wright/Frost combo. Made all the better because it's actually a Pegg/Stevenson (ok, Hynes)/Wright/Frost combo. I just wish my film knowledge was a bit better so I could appreciate all the references. 
The Office. So well observed that it's almost depressing at times. Well, it would be if it wasn't so bloody funny. The characters are just muted enough to be totally realistic. You will start to care about these people like they're your actual friends. I recently re-watched this and it was even better than I had remembered. I love it when that happens.

Are you a comedy fan? What can you recommend for me to try?

Good Stuff # 4

Here's what's been good in my world recently...

Having Wednesdays off! It's made a really positive change to my outlook on work, and I get to wear clothes that aren't strictly practical during the week. Woo! Which results in awkward mirror photos for the blog. You lucky, lucky people.

Gotta love a Monopoly spot. I am an unashamed board games geek. As long as people are playing by the rules...

I went to Canterbury last weekend and visited my favourite sweet shop. This coconut-covered marshmallow thing is a perfect pick and mix item: large, but light. Mmmmmm, pick and mix....

Spotted a pub in Margate that has almost the same name as my favourite Cardiff watering hole. Close, but no cigar.

This beast of a breakfast was bought for the princely sum of £2.87. Bargainous.

My little brother, the giant.

What's been good in your life this week?

Weekend Wanderlust: The London Eye

I couldn't resist taking some photos of the London Eye last week when I was walking along the South Bank; the sky was the perfect backdrop. I have been on the Eye, but it was years ago (at least 10 years... Where has the time gone?!) I think I enjoyed it, but to be honest I can't remember it in much detail, so I can't really recommend it with much confidence. From memory, I'd say that it's worth going on on a clear day, although if I only had one day to see London I don't know if I'd bother queueing for the Eye... 

I'm not 100% convinced that it's (visually) a great addition to London's skyline, but it actually looks pretty good on a sunny day. Here's the evidence:

Part of me still thinks it's a bit of an eyesore, but it's an eyesore that's growing on me. Slowly.

Have you been on the London Eye? What did you think?

Making Changes: Body Image

I've been thinking about the stuff I put in Tuesday's post (about how I feel about my weight). Writing down my feelings hasn't changed them (yet) but it has helped me to acknowledge how I feel, and start to question it (on a 'thought' level, if not quite yet a 'feelings' one). I don't have any answers, but I have decided to make a few little changes.

I'm going to remove 'lose a stone' from my list of New Year's resolutions. I don't need to; my BMI is comfortably within the healthy range, my clothes fit me and look nice, and there's absolutely no need for me to suddenly become smaller than I've ever been in my adult life. 

I do want to stay healthy and fit though, so I'm going to keep using My Fitness Pal to keep track of my calories and nutrition, but I'm going to allow myself to have cheat days where I can eat what I want (without completely binge eating). If I do lose a couple of pounds, that's fine, but if I stay the same, that's fine too. 

I'm going to keep exercising because I enjoy it, it's good for my general wellbeing. It's not important for me to have a skinny body, but it is important for me to have a healthy one.

I'm also going to try and take more pride in my appearance. I know that for some people, wearing make up is a negative thing, a mask that they feel tied to. For me, however, it's a sign of confidence, that I don't mind being noticed, that (and excuse me for what I'm about to type) I'm worth it (currently trying not to vomit onto the keyboard). I'm going to wear the clothes I love, with confidence, and use more of my massive jewellery collection, rather than just wear the same things again and again.

But mostly, I'm going to try and remember that my appearance is not the most important thing about me (or anyone). In fact, it doesn't even make the 'Top Ten Most Important Things About Me' (don't worry, that's not the title of a future post). 

So, actually, if some days I feel a bit crap, get up, scrape my hair back and don't put on any make up, well, at least I managed to get up. Because some days, that is an achievement in itself.

This stuff isn't a magical solution, but I'm hoping it's a step in the right direction.