When is it ok to bitch?

I am deeply suspicious of anyone who claims to never, ever bitch about other people. Just admit it already. I bitch about other people, of course I do, and within reason I don't believe that there's anything wrong with that. 

Obviously the 'within reason' part is pretty important, so I've produced two handy lists to help you out (you can thank me later). Obviously these are just my personal standards, but I am normally right about absolutely everything some stuff.

When bitching is (probably) a good thing:
When you're bitching about me. I am absolutely terrible at taking direct criticism. Now, if it's constructive (i.e. it's something I can change, and would want to change) I can take it because I know it's for my own good. If you like/love me overall but just can't stand the way I talk too much/tweet too often/can't take criticism, then don't tell me to my face. Vent amongst yourselves and be nice to me when I'm there. I am more than happy with that. 
When it's a bonding exercise in mutual hatred. This is especially satisfying when reserved for celebrities, authority figures, etc. We all do it. 
When it actually helps to preserve a friendship or relationship. If you love someone lots and lots, and having an occasional vent about their bad habits preserves what is an otherwise beautiful relationship, then why not? This one is especially important when it comes to family members (NOT YOU, MUM). You have to have a relationship with them, so why bother pointing out their flaws to their face and causing a horrible argument? Everyone needs to vent now and again.
When there's a (tiny) bit of empathy involved. I don't want to get all Atticus Finch on your ass, but sometimes you do have to put yourself in other people's shoes. Have a moan, sure, but remember that you're not perfect either.

When bitching goes bad:
When it constantly focuses on something that has nothing to do with a person's personality, and it's something that they couldn't change (even if they wanted to...which they probably don't). So, bitching about someone's weight, nose, height, whatever... Not cool.
When it's just ill-disguised prejudice. I operate a zero tolerance policy when it comes to this. Even when it's disguised as a 'compliment' e.g. 'She's alright for a lesbian'. FUCK OFF. Just fuck off.
When it's properly two-faced. Bitching about a mutual friend's slight character flaws? Fine. Constantly character-assassinating someone and then pretending you like them? Not fine.
When it starts to make you bitter and twisted. If all you're doing is bitching and moaning all day then surely that's just going to make you feel bad? Get some positivity in your life. Make a cake or something.
When the person is question might hear/read it. Want to moan about a blogger in private with a bloggy mate? Fine. But do not do it on twitter or stupid forums. And definitely do not do it in a blog comment. That's horrible. Would you bitch about your boss by writing your thoughts on post-it notes and leaving them lying around in the office? No you wouldn't (I hope). So don't do it online.

I'd also like to make it clear that I don't only bitch about other women; my hatred is totally equal opportunities. I also hate the misconception that bitching is exclusively a female pursuit; every man I've ever been friends with is also a bitch sometimes.

I'd be intrigued to know what people's honest opinions about this are... I'm sure that there are some genuinely lovely people out there who never bitch about others. I bet they're really, really boring.

The Big Blog Clothes Swap

When someone asks me where I bought a new dress or whatever, I love it when I can proudly say 'charity shop'! I just love getting something new (to me) without spending a fortune. So I was pretty excited when Janet emailed me about a new blog clothes swap that she's organising with Steph. Sending and receiving proper parcels makes me unreasonably happy (as does getting a new item of clothing) so I'm pretty excited about taking part.

The idea is that Janet and Steph will match bloggers based on clothes size and give you someone to pair up with. Based on the info you're given/your best internet stalking you then send (and of course receive) a new (to you) item/s of clothing. Easy! Pairing up people according to size could prove tricky, so if you're prepared to swap shoes or accessories instead let the ladies know.

Here's Janet with the details:

Want to take part? To sign up, all we need is the following, emailed to either jbistheinitial@gmail.com or info@wardrobeangel.co.uk, by the 9th February:

Blog address and/or social media:
Clothes size (if you need to split this for tops/bottoms, do):
Shoe size:
Swapping preferences (for example, Do you want to swap one item only or more? Do you have specific clothing preferences, e.g. dresses only? Would you be willing, or prefer, to swap shoes, bags, accessories, etc?):

Steph and I will wade through the responses and pair you with someone of the same size. You can, if you wish, then use social media to get to know your partner and their style, or you can just hope for the best! 

Who's in? Please blog/tweet about the swap and spread the word!

Something new every week [2014: 44-52]

44: Went to Montserrat.

45: Went to a 90th birthday party. I ate a lot of cake, although that was most certainly not a first.

46: Drove on the motorway!!! Very proud of this one. It still seems incredibly surreal that I'm allowed to do that.

47: Started working through a crisis at home (with lots of help!).

48: Ate a plantain taco at Wahaca. I hope that'll be the first of many.

49: Put up the Christmas tree with Pete (it's our first Christmas living together).

50: I'm not sure if I didn't anything new... I haven't been well and this was a difficult week!

51: Had a meal at The Mug House near London Bridge. The food was ok, the company was great.

52: Spent Christmas Day in Bournemouth.

Green Chaining II [Crystal Palace Park to Dulwich]

After a (stupidly long) break we decided that it was time to continue with the Green Chain odyssey. In a nutshell, the Green Chain is a series of well-signposted walks through SE London's green spaces. It's great for discovering hidden gems, new areas, and new bits of old areas (if you know what I mean).

I'm going to let the photos do the talking. That's definitely not because I can't be bothered to write more words. Definitely not.

It's me! Walking!

Disused railway paraphernalia makes me happy.

Cool houses/shelters in Dulwich Park.

There we have it. I'd say that there will be more Green Chain action coming soon, but realistically I'll probably forget all about it for another six months. Life is, as usual, busy. I wouldn't have it any other way.

2014 in 14 Photos

It's still January, so it's perfectly acceptable for me to still be posting about 2014, ALRIGHT? OK, glad we've cleared the air. Photos!

Vodka + fox puppet + Vern + One Direction + onesie = this, apparently

Copenhagen has outdoor trampolines, who knew?

I went back to Norway (and found another lake).

Arcade Fire were perfect.

No caption needed.

Greenwich in the sun.

The first wedding of many (well, three).

Camping can be immeasurably improved by marshmallows and a tiny BBQ.


Beth's wedding!

I can't believe this actually, finally happened.

Montserrat was awesome, in the true sense of the word. And in the 'it was really good' sense.


I am a lucky little sausage.

[I've just realised that I've already done a 'Best Bits of 2014' post. Ah well, it's done now. Sorry.]

My Hopes for 2015

This year, I've made a conscious decision not to make any resolutions, or set myself any new goals. Instead I'm going to try and enjoy doing the things that are already working well for me. I do, however, have hopes and wishes for the year ahead (who doesn't?):

I hope that this year brings lots of happiness for my lovely friends and family. There's already a wedding lined up and I hope there are lots more exciting things in the pipeline.
I hope that I can balance seeking new opportunities and mental fulfillment, with staying healthy.
I hope that I'm lucky enough to see lots of exciting places and do lots of new things.
I hope they don't actually invent the hoverboard (Back to the Future style). My balance is terrible and I would probably get horribly injured. 

There you go. To be honest, I'll be happy if just one or two of those actually happen. 

Happy New Year!