Friday, 30 October 2015

October Favourites

Seriously? It's the end of October already? What is it about this time of year that it seems like time takes on a life of its own! It's time for another monthly favourites - all the things I've been liking, loving, and a couple of obsessions thrown in for good measure. Take it away October. 

It won't come as too much of a surprise that this guy is still up there as a favourite. Bob, Bobert, Doggo, Robert the Ridiculous. He gets them all and he doesn't care. This month his personality has really come out and he's a big old bundle of love. He likes nothing more than leaping up to join us, which borders on bone crushing cos he ain't light in the weight department! He loves licking ears (weirdo), endlessly playing catch with his green ball, and running like a loon around the garden. As a work from home person, it's brilliant to have such a loving companion, and I now get why so many people have dogs in their lives. It's a huge commitment but extremely rewarding. I'm loving it!  

For the first time in a few years, Autumn is really staying true to its season and not just turning into Winter almost immediately. The skies are blue, it's even warm enough to walk about in just a jumper or a lightweight jacket. The leaves are beautiful and crunchy and it's pure joy to be outside. I'm drinking it in before the long Winter heads our way. 

I'm not proud of this one. I seem to have developed a serious addiction to all things biscuits. Any type, any size, just bring them on. All of them. This is not a good addiction to have, especially when you work at home alone all day and the cupboards are mere steps away. Highly dangerous. These peanut butter ones below are particularly bad as I can't just stop at one. Someone remove them and take away my purse so I can't buy any more! 

It's been a good month in the old culture vulture department. I've devoured several page turning books, including Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson. I'll put it out there that it's not particularly well written but in terms of page turners it's up there. Several times I had to force myself to switch off the light or I'd have still been reading into the wee small hours. I'm currently working my way through So You've been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson, which combines total and utter intrigue and fear. Oh my days, it's enough to turn you off social media forever! 

Musically, my ears have been filled on an almost constant rotation with The Vaccines. Just. Can't. Stop. So good! Rockin', loud, and perfect for dancing round the kitchen - I'd highly recommend all three albums. 

The teevee has been a bit hit and miss. There have been many hours of the Rugby World Cup (will it ever end?!) but instead of seeking out the second telly I've been reading or catching up with blogs. We're working our way through Doctor Foster which is oh so good (another BBC winner) but other than that, series are stacking up on the box with no real inclination to dive in. No doubt we'll pick one up again soon. As always, any recommendations, send 'em our way. 

And I think that's it. November here we come! 

Monday, 26 October 2015

Rediscovery - Listen Up!

A recent day of being back on the bus meant ears in and music on. Somewhere along the way I clicked on The Vaccines and have been obsessed ever since. This is from 2012 and it's a bloody brilliant song. I had to force myself to keep my mouth shut and not just burst into loudly singing along. Not entirely appropriate for bus times. 

But perfect for kitchen times. 

Press play and sing it with me...

Friday, 23 October 2015

15 Things...

1. The first cup of tea in the morning...

2. Changing seasons...

3. This guy...

4. And this one...

5. Being part of this...

6. Leisurely strolls...

7. Adventures...

8. Creating...

9. Carefree...

10. Green fingers...

11. Tasting...

12. Besties... (and all the ones not pictured)

13. Icecream!

14. Sunsets...

15. Weekends...

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Don't be Afraid of the Dark

Last week I went on a torch-lit tour of Middlesbrough Town Hall! It was part of a wider festival called Don't be Afraid of the Dark. The festival itself wasn't all that but the tour was well worth waiting for. Which was a good job really as it didn't start until 11pm! 

I've been to the Town Hall heaps of times, mainly to see bands and comedians. It's a brilliant venue but I've never seen it from this perspective before. For starters, it was in darkness (kind of obvious really for a torch-lit tour) but also because we got to go on the stage! Where all those famous faces have stamped their feet and sang out loud - it was so cool to see it through their eyes. I tried to imagine a massive crowd of people all jumping up and down and singing along (it's my inner rock star) as I listened to the history of the building. It was pretty good timing actually as it's about to close down for two years and undergo a huge refurbishment, opening up areas that are currently not accessible to the public and removing all the boarding from the beautiful windows. 

As well as the stage, the tour took us to the dressing room (and the toilet where Pete Docherty allegedly got up to some naughty business), the carriage street, the old courtroom and the cells! I never even knew those things were there. The old courtroom was so cool. It's currently offices (excellent place to work!) but it's still set out exactly the same way with the raised platform for the judge, and all the seats marked as to who sat where; the old kitchen is even there as after it was a courtroom it became the canteen for council staff. So many interesting things to see and all by torchlight. Heaps of fun! And for £2 it was a total bargain to boot. 

Chatting to organisers at the end, they plan to have the festival at different times next year which will hopefully improve it. But I'm really glad I stayed up way past my bedtime to visit the Town Hall - well worth the wait! 

Middlesbrough Town Hall in the dark, dark night! 

Monday, 12 October 2015

Big screen/small screen

After about 6 weeks of barely watching anything except for YouTube videos, I've made up for it in the past couple of weeks by watching loads of good stuff! Sharing is caring and so here are a few little reviews of the things I've seen. Maybe you'll find some inspiration if you're looking for something new. Let's start with the big screen. 

Ricki and the Flash
Wah I love Meryl Streep! It was especially easy to love Meryl Streep when she is playing an ageing rocker in tight leather trousers and dodgy 80s hair plaits. And can we just talk for a moment about how much Mamie Gummer looks like her? Terrifying! This was funny and sad and all kinds of fab. The band scenes were pretty good too, I think it really was Meryl singing but I'm not sure if she was really playing the guitar. If she was I'm even more impressed. All round, good couple of hours entertainment. Go Meryl! 

The Intern
In the same spirit as above, I love Robert de Niro. And how can you not love him when he's playing an adorable senior intern to Anne Hathaway's boss-lady. I'd heard and read all sorts of things about this film and was worried that it might be a bit preachy but actually, it was delightful! It was funny and adorable and just a feel-good kinda film, perfect for a chilly and grey Sunday afternoon in October. 

There are loads of good films coming out at the cinema, and Dave and I are still planning to see Legend in the next week or so. Bringing the film love back.

The TV love is good right now too though. Especially since we got us a second telly and a Tivo box! So good! The boys can sit and watch all the boring sport stuff and I can lie back on the huge sofa and catch up on some Netflix viewing. Happy days. 

This is a made for Netflix thingie by the same people who created Damages, which I also loved. I started watching it ages ago and then just stopped, but I picked it back up again after the arrival of the magic Tivo box and I couldn't stop watching! I had to watch the final two episodes at the same time as I could barely breathe at the end of the penultimate one. So good! If you're looking for a good family drama, with an excellent cast, and endless sunshine from the Florida setting, then this is the one for you. Gripping. Try to breathe at the end, it'll help with the massive cliffhanger that they drop at the end. Gahhh! Come on Series 2! 

Wish I Was Here
This is a film but I watched it on a small screen so does it count as TV? Let's go with it. You might not think that an out of work actor deciding to home school his kids would make for a good film but I adored this. It was warm and touching and left me with all the feels. I do love a bit of Mandy Patinkin too, that beard is just all kinds of awesome. 

Mr Morgan's Last Love
Michael Caine playing an American is a bit of a stretch but if you can past the occasionally dodgy accent this is a charming film. It had me at being set in Paris (love), and starring Clemence Poesy (girlcrush) - oh she is so beautiful and chic and I find her enchanting to watch. Throw in a bit of Gillian Anderson and it's a winner. Great cast, great location, cute story. Can I say delightful again? 

Life in Squares
The BBC are really really good at making period dramas. If you also make it a period drama with lots of romping (love that word!) it's usually going to be a winner. This little treasure is all about the Bloomsbury group. I have quite the fascination with them from various other films and exhibitions that I've seen so was keen to catch up with this one. It was interesting to see it from the point of view of the group beginning and how they evolved and the complicated relationships that became established. I've still got the last one to watch but so far so very enjoyable. And lots of romping. Nice one BBC, another good'un. 

The rest of my screen time is spent avoiding the Rugby World Cup (will it ever end?) and the Euro qualifiers (bor-ring!). I like having a second TV! 

Do you have any recommendations for me? Big screen or small, I'm open to all. 

Friday, 9 October 2015

Unpacking books from boxes

I finally got around to finishing one of my projects last weekend - the box of books. We've had this planned since we moved in way back in February. Instead of conventional shelves I decided that I wanted lots of boxes that could stack books any which way but house a whole heap of them. Success! Dave built me a basic box and I painted it. I have to admit that the paint job is less than ideal, well actually it was the varnish that did for it. I used outdoor varnish instead of internal varnish and it's a bit rough and ready. But the box looks cool. I'm so happy with it and it's full of books! Our second living room is slowly starting to take a shape and character all of its own.

Next up for projects is to take our pine bedside cabinets and turn them all white and shiny. This is just the beginning for Operation Bedroom. Stay tuned for updates.

Monday, 5 October 2015


I wonder a lot about how often we see the truth on the internet. I saw this brilliant article the other day that had photos from Instagram that had received thousands of likes, and it showed the wider image rather than the edited down version that had been shown to the world. Surrounding the 'perfect' image was utter chaos - pretty funny when you think about it. What is it about feeling that we have to show this perfect version of ourselves to the big wide web?

Let's see some truth shall we. September was kind of a shitty month. A friend's mam died from a long illness. The very same night my eldest cousin died suddenly. He was only 50 years old. In that very same week one of my much loved friends from theatre had a stroke. And to top that off the tax office started to chase me for income earned when I was a landlady a hundred years ago. There was not a whole lot of smiling going on. 

As the month wore on, it seemed to be that everyone I spoke to had some more awful news. A friend of my parents was diagnosed with cancer, in the same family her brother had found a lump and was going for a scan (turns out that's cancer too)...seriously September, what was up with all that? 

This weekend has felt a little like a reboot. My theatre group bud is making such good progress that he has been released from hospital and is now at home. Our family are coming to terms with our loss and starting the slow process of grieving. My friend, R, is doing amazingly well and I have massive amounts of respect (and love) for the way she is handling everything. Dave and I spent this weekend enjoying a lot of downtime. We even went out for lunch today and banished all talk about the dog (it's truly amazing how much it can take over your life, and conversations!) We put a huge dent in the even more huge-r ironing pile and enjoyed some tasty treats. Hell I've even come to terms with the fact that I have to pay the tax man back (chunter, grumble). 

I don't know what October will bring but I hope it's better. I might not have a job by November so best try to look on the bright side for this month! 

Be honest. How are you?  

Friday, 2 October 2015

The Magic of Mess

Everywhere I look on the internet at the moment I keep coming across this book which is all about tidying. People are hailing joy and hallelujah over the amazing way that this book helps you to get rid of all your clutter and make sure your socks are folded rather than scrunched as they have worked hard for your feet and you need to say thank you (disclaimer: I haven't read the book) or some such nonsense like that. Well I say balls to all that. I'm putting my hand up and saying I like mess. Actually no, that's not entirely true, but I do like clutter and STUFF.

It seems that everyone has a Pinterest-worthy house these days. Or at least that's what they are presenting to the big wide interweb. Maybe, like most of us, they have one room that is absolutely packed to the gills of garish coloured tapestries and funky rugs that they dare not display in case someone exclaims over their lack of clean white lines and marble display dishes. I see desk spaces that are immaculate, with a cute bottle of face mist here and a pile of trendy books there. On my desk at this moment is a cup inside a bowl with a spoon left over from breakfast, my notepad and pen filled with my (messy) scrawl, two coasters that look like toasted bread, several piles of paperwork that include notes from puppy school, tax return information, and a whole other pile of I don't know what, a random SD card, a lipbalm, a clock, and a phone that is actually quite trendy with its white lines and minimal appearance. All of which lies on top of a desk that could really do with a wipe and has a combination of mine and the dog's hair on it. There's a Pinterest obsessive's worst nightmare right there. Ha!

Is it true? Do people really live this minimal and clean lines existence? I grew up in a house that was tidy. Like way tidy. My mam has a place for everything and she has always been incredibly good at making sure it stayed that way, even with two kids and a husband who is a mechanic and therefore generally covered in oil or petrol fumes. I had this friend in art college and I would go to her house all the time and I loved it. It was full of stuff! Books piled high, brightly coloured throws and pillows (no beige here, kids!), the kitchen worktops were covered in an array of all sorts of things, there were plants everywhere...I look at my house now and I can see how much that influenced me. It was like a bohemian, artistic, creative space and it filled me with joy. A lot of people would have probably called it messy, I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

In our new house we have two living rooms (I know!) one of which we have decorated in shades of grey and red that is oh so nice and calming and neat - my Pops laughs frequently and tells me it's way too sophisticated for me. Which is probably why we spend more time in the other room. The one that is filled with all sorts of things, books piled high, plants on the window sill, stuff everywhere that doesn't really match - yep, meet my own bohemian den. It's not to everyone's taste, my mother in law said the other day that she hoped she wasn't being rude but did we need a bookcase, seeing as we have books piled on the floor. I had to chuckle and explain that we are in the middle of creating some boxes, but actually I kinda like it this way. It's so much more me.

I'm kind of bemused by the whole thing about houses and being Pinterest-worthy. It seems to me that they all create the same look and how is that unique to you if you're just copying what everyone else is doing? Surely how your house looks is an extension of you and your personality. Maybe it's the same for people who see a look on a mannequin in a shop and buy the whole thing, without thinking of how they might style it to suit them or with something they already have. It's all just slightly bizarre. In the meantime I shall continue with my venture of de-beige-ing this house (literally every room!) and adding in some colour and joy. No marble dishes shall enter these halls. Long live mess!